Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
With the Yankees signing Gerrit Cole to a record contract earlier this winter, it's been a pretty buzzworthy offseason already in the Bronx.
How great would it be if they kept that sizzle going and made a trade for Josh Hader, the lefty strikeout machine who has anchored Milwaukee's bullpen the last two years?
Maybe the Brewers are just in listen mode and the whole idea's a longshot. Perhaps it'd be easier and smarter to just re-sign Dellin Betances, considering the hefty return Milwaukee likely will demand.
Or maybe Hader's just the thing to make the already-strong Yankee bullpen invincible over 162 games and then he'll gobble up Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Corey Seager in a Dodgers-Yankees World Series. Hey, this is a "potential trade scenario" piece, so you have to consider every possibility.
Over the past two years, in which he's won the Trevor Hoffman Award as the best reliever in the National League, Hader is 9-6 with 49 saves and a 2.52 ERA. He's fanned 281 batters over 157 innings, 16.1 strikeouts per nine innings. For context, Cole fanned 13.8 per nine in 2019, though as a starter.
Hader allowed 1.8 homers per nine innings last year and you can decide whether that's a red flag for someone pitching in Yankee Stadium or more of a rabbit-ball problem. Or a bit of both.
Hader, who won't turn 26 until next April, will be pricey, though, because of his talent, age and four more years of control via arbitration. If you want him on the Yanks, you'd better fall out of love with a few prospects and not the fringe kind. Not every prospect makes the Majors and thrives, you know.
For reference, let's look at what the Yankees got when they dealt two mega-relievers at the 2016. Special circumstances, yes, but perhaps there's some guidance here: The Yanks sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs, who were hoping to break a 108-year-old curse for Gleyber Torres, Adam Warren and two other players; they swapped Andrew Miller to the Indians for Clint Frazier, Justus Sheffield, Ben Heller and one other player.
So here's a look a three swap suggestions for Hader. They are speculation on our part and, as the saying goes, for entertainment purposes only.
The Redundancy Exchange
Yanks send Miguel Andújar and Frazier to Milwaukee for Hader. If that's not enough, perhaps the Yanks could add a third player -- righty Chance Adams?
Gio Urshela might be enough of a real deal at third base that the Yankees look to trade from a strength by sending Andújar to Milwaukee. Frazier, who had 12 homers and an .806 OPS last year in 69 games, is another good player who doesn't have a clear starting role. Why not turn them both into another bullpen weapon, especially one who is slated to make just $4.6 million in arbitration, according to MLBtraderumors.com?
It would sting to move players with the promise that Andújar and Frazier hold, especially for a team that learned the priceless value of elite depth just last season.
The deal could work for the Brewers because of an influx of high-end young talent. Andújar was the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year in 2018, though his 2019 season was wrecked by injury. The Brewers lost Mike Moustakas to free agency, so Andújar slides in to third base as his replacement.
Frazier, of course, has "legendary bat speed," according to Yanks' GM Brian Cashman and has shown ability to hit in the Majors. His fielding is behind his offense, but there is serious potential there and Frazier is only 25.
Adams, too, is 25. He's hardly been a hit in brief stints in the majors the last two seasons, nor when he's pitched at Triple-A. But he's always been well thought of, so perhaps he blooms elsewhere.
The Prospect Package
The Yanks send RHP Deivi Garcia, OF Estevan Florial and RHP Miguel Yajure to Milwaukee for Hader.
If the Brewers prefer stocking their system, this kind of package might work. In Garcia, the righty who seemed to be pushing his way to the Majors last year, and Florial, they get two of the Yankees very best prospects.
Garcia pitched at three levels last season, getting to Triple-A and tempting the Yanks to go even further. He's only 20 and was ranked 62nd on MLB.com's Top 100 prospects list. He had a 4.28 ERA in 26 games (21 starts) last year, but fanned 165 in 111.1 innings while allowing 96 hits.
Florial, just 22, has struggled with injuries and had a .680 OPS in 74 games with Class A Tampa, but has promise in center. Yajure, a 6-1, 175-pound righty the Yanks signed out of Venezuela for $30,000 (per MLB.com), is ranked 26th by the website and reached Double-A at 21 last year after fashioning a 2.26 ERA in 22 games at Tampa.
Get Two Attached
This one centers on J.A. Happ, the lefty the Yanks are reportedly interested in moving, going to Milwaukee as part of a package for Hader. Perhaps some combination of the above prospects is included, or maybe the Brewers would prefer a righty such as Adams, Luis Gil or Clarke Schmidt or INF Thairo Estrada.
Admittedly, there may be 17 million reasons why this particular idea fizzles -- Happ is due $17 million next year and if the Brewers would entertain dealing one of their best players, Hader, because he's getting more expensive, they won't want to add Happ's price tag. Unless the talent tax is significant.
And Happ, 37, did not have his best season in 2019, going 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA. He allowed 34 homers, fifth-most in the AL, in 161.1 innings.
But he's a smart, experienced starter who would help the Brewers. If the Yanks are willing to add the right youngsters, maybe Happ's a big player in a Hader deal.
The Yankees have a full 40-man roster and two players -- Cole and Brett Gardner -- to add to it. So there will be some movement on the 40. Maybe one of these deals, or some combination, fits for Hader.