The Mets are one of many teams interested in trading for Brewers reliever Josh Hader, reports SNY’s Andy Martino, who says it’s not yet clear if the Brewers will deal him.
Martino adds that the price for the Mets would be high — in the J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil category.
Hader “is indeed available,” according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, who reported late Sunday night that the Mets are “one team to watch” when it comes to Milwaukee potentially dealing arguably the best reliever in baseball.
Rosenthal cited the Brodie Van Wagenen connection — he represented Hader before taking the Mets GM job — and went on to speculate that even though the Mets’ farm system isn’t percolating with high-impact talent, they could try to entice the Brewers with players off the big league roster such as Davis or McNeil.
According to Rosenthal, Hader is available because he is entering his first year of arbitration and his salary will likely escalate each of the next four seasons.
Hader, 25, has put up eye-popping numbers during his three-year career, posting a 2.42 ERA (2.73 FIP) and 0.85 WHIP with 349 strikeouts in 242.2 IP — that’s an absolutely ridiculous 15.3 strikeouts per 9.
Like many pitchers, Hader was hurt by the longball last season, when he allowed 1.8 homers per 9. He served up 15 homerrs after allowing just 14 in 2017 and 2018 combined.
Still, Hader’s WHIP and K/9 (which were elite in 2018) actually improved in 2019, as did his walk rate, which dropped from 3.3 per 9 to 2.4 per 9 — the best rate of his career.
If the Mets make a play for Hader, it will be the second time in as many offseasons that they look to make a big splash by adding a young, under control reliever.
The Edwin Diaz trade last offseason blew up in the Mets’ faces, but — like Hader and many other pitchers who were victims of the home run at an alarming rate in 2019 — Diaz could benefit in 2020 if the ball is back to normal or at least a close facsimile of normal.
When it comes to what it could take to trade for Hader, it could make sense for Davis — who might not have a position with the Mets — to be on the table. McNeil should be off-limits, as should prospects such as Brett Baty and Matthew Allan. And therein lies the potential problem for the Mets.
With their farm system already depleted after recent trades that shipped off Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Anthony Kay, how much more prospect talent can the Mets afford to part with?
Van Wagenen has made it clear that the bullpen is one area he is looking to improve this offseason, and the Mets have been linked to free agent Dellin Betances. Aside from Betances, other free agent relievers include Will Harris and Joe Smith. Hader would likely be much more of a sure thing, but with the player and prospect capital the Mets would likely have to give up to get him, would it be the smart play?