David Stearns dealt ace lefty closer Josh Hader to the Padres for a demoted closer, two fringy prospects, and a pitcher they DFA’ed 2 days later. They did this because ownership didn’t want to pay Josh Hader’s final arbitration raise this winter. It’s a chicken shit move, I agree.
The key to this deal (and it’s a long-shot) for the Brewers is LHP prospect Robert Gasser who posted a 4.18 ERA across 18 starts at High-A Fort Wayne this season. Lefty reliever Taylor Rogers isn’t close to Josh Hader, and OF Esteury Ruiz is a bench guy with no pop. RHP Dinelson Lamet needed Tommy John surgery after 2020, but refused and went with platelet rich plasma [quack] treatment instead. It failed probably costing him his MLB career.
“Dinelson [Lamet] has a good arm and was included in the trade to help balance out the deal,” said David Stearns. “As subsequent transactions played out, the roster fit became a little tougher. We are hopeful we will be able to keep him in our system.”
So why did the Brewers trade Josh Hader, only to DFA a guy in that deal two days later? The answer is that Padres GM AJ Preller made David Stearns take Dinelson Lamet because he wanted to dump him. The GM rule is: if someone dumps to you, you get to dump (something less) back. When someone dumps the best closer in baseball, and you get to dump an arbitration expensive pitcher who has been derailed by injuries, that’s quite a nice gift.
This was a shameless dump by Brewers ownership, comparable to when the Rays dealt ace LHP David Price to the Tigers in 2014. That move deflated the team & killed their season. Rays GM Andrew Friedman left for the Dodgers after that season, and Joe Maddon went to the Cubs. The Mets have been after David Stearns for awhile and this deal may finally convince him to leave. He didn’t want to make it.
It’s the RF Christian Yelich extension ($26M per thru 2028, then $6.5M buyout) that hamstrings them. The Brewers made the same mistake with RF Ryan Braun and didn’t learn. That’s the truth Brewers front office & ownership can’t tell you.
The fans aren’t fooled. David Stearns had been asked by the Yankees, etc, for years about Josh Hader, and he always refused them by putting an exorbitant price tag on his elite, cost-controlled closer. Then Stearns gives Hader to the Padres when no one expects it. What explains that?
When David Stearns was told by team owner Mark Attanasio to trade Josh Hader, he must have realized that this was going to be his end in Milwaukee. David Stearns knew all the consequences, it’s his job to know. Viewed as his last trade deadline as Brewers GM, Stearns made sure the Yankees didn’t get Hader. It was the best he could do. This was a payroll dump to an organization Stearns could tolerate. I believe the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Cardinals & Dodgers were considered intolerable, meaning Brewers fans would never forgive him.
As mentioned, the Mets are interested in David Stearns, and have been for some time. Therefore he couldn’t trade Hader to them, as it could be construed as a conflict of interest down the line by MLB. Stearns had to trade Hader to a team he wasn’t going to potentially interview for this winter. Those were his interests in a deal he didn’t want to make. Knowing all this makes this murky deal much more understandable.
Ownership didn’t care about the return, so it’s the team & fans that lose. It’s yet another reason I’m against private ownership, because roughly 99.9% of Brewers fans hate this deal. The entire team hates the deal. After this season, David Stearns will be allowed to talk to other teams and he will get snatched up by one that has the payroll to win a World Series. The Brewers window to win, which opened in 2018, has now been closed by ownership.