With the Major League Baseball trade deadline set for 3 p.m. PDT Tuesday, the San Diego Padres have made significant moves to upgrade their roster in the past 24 hours, including a trade with the Washington Nationals that will reportedly send superstar Juan Soto to San Diego.
The first trade Padres’ General Manager A.J. Preller made was with the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday morning, with San Diego landing All-Star closer Josh Hader. In exchange for Hader, the Padres sent their closer Taylor Rogers, who is one save (28) behind Hader for the Major League lead, Esteury Ruiz, Robert Gasser, and Dinelson Lamet.
While that is a lot for the Padres to part with for a pitcher who, on paper, has similar numbers to the closer San Diego is sending in return, it makes a lot of sense for the team that is looking to take advantage of their window for winning a World Series in the next few seasons.
While Rogers has been good for San Diego this season, he struggled mightily over the past few months and did not have the presence or track record of Hader. Hader has struggled in July also, posting an ERA north of 12, which upped his ERA to 4.24 after it had been at 1.09 through the end of June.
With Hader, the Padres receive a guy who has been one of the top relievers in baseball over the past five seasons, posting a career 2.48 ERA in 316.1 innings pitched. He also has a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 postseason innings, including 23 strikeouts and only three walks. His 2.75 career ERA in the second half also indicates a trend of finishing seasons strong, which likely played a significant factor in the team’s decision to pursue Hader and pay the price that it did for him.
Hader is a hard-throwing lefty with a bit of a deceiving wind-up that sees him twist his body toward second base before delivering his pitches. He primarily works with a fastball that runs from 97 to 99 mph and a slider that runs 82 to 84 mph. His delivery and arm slot on the two pitches are identical, with an arm slot that is around somewhere between sidearm and three-quarters.
Hader is a four-time All-Star and is under contract for the rest of 2022 and 2023, so he will help the Padres in not only their pursuit of a playoff spot in 2022 but also next season when the team will likely be in a great position to contend for a World Series again.
Rogers, who will be a free agent following this season, had an interesting tenure with the Padres. He was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in the offseason for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan and began the season on fire. He didn’t allow an earned run until May 10, and by the end of the month, he had only allowed four earned runs, 26 strikeouts, and six walks in 22 innings of work.
On June 2, Rogers allowed four earned runs in a game against the Brewers, and his stretch of dominance was over. By the end of July, the Padres had lost faith in Rogers and eventually began using their eighth-inning set-up man, Luis Garcia, in the closer’s role.
With the addition of Hader, the Padres can now move Garcia back to his primary set-up role and plug in Hader to the closer role to make a lethal back-end bullpen combination.
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It will be interesting to see how the trade unfolds for both teams as the season continues. Will Hader turn his season back around like his numbers indicate he typically does in the second half? Will Rogers find his groove for the Brewers that he had at the beginning of the season in San Diego? Will Lamet find his touch again after years of injuries derailed his once-promising career? Will Gasser and Ruiz develop into good players at the Major League level?
There are plenty of questions hovering around this deal for both teams, but the biggest takeaway from this trade for the Padres is that they got a guy in Hader that has proven himself in the past. The Padres are going all in for a championship run in 2022 and beyond, and this deal was another indication from the Padres that they are willing to make big moves to contend for a ring.
Kevin is a San Diego Native covering the San Diego Padres and their affiliates