Brewers listening to trade offers on Josh Hader

Ken Rosenthal is hearing rumors that the Milwaukee Brewers are listening to trade offers for, perhaps, the best reliever in baseball: Josh Hader.

He asked the Brewers about it and this is what general manager David Stearns told him:

“We listen on a wide variety of players throughout the offseason. A lot of players get discussed.”

Not exactly a clear sign that the Brewers may actually trade Hader, but not a denial either.

Why might a team in win-now mode, as the Brewers are, consider trading a pitcher of Hader’s caliber? A few reasons offered by Rosenthal make sense even if they are depressing for Brewers fans.

The main one is that Hader is arbitration eligible and that that great performance over the past two years means that he’ll start making a lot of money pretty quickly. He gives a nod to Jonathan Papelbon making over $6 million his first year of arbitration eligibility and notes that, while the Brewers could pay that if Hader remains elite, that may be too much for them if Hader declines. He also nods to the m.o. of teams like the Rays and Indians when it comes to such things. That’s the depressing part.

While decline seems like an odd concept for a guy who is just 25 and has just three seasons under his belt, Rosenthal notes his mileage too, with Hader logging 204.2 innings in 151 appearances over the past two-and-a-half seasons. I suppose it’s hard for anyone not named Rivera to keep up Hader’s pace of 2018-19 for an extended period, but I think that’s also a rather depressing prospect.

Not that it’s all based on gloom. It could also be based on simply realizing that Hader, perhaps the top reliever in baseball yet still under team control for four more seasons, has a pretty dang high trade value even if his price tag is escalating and the Brewers may want to see if they can trade one great player for multiple good players.

It’s still just December 2. The Winter Meetings begin next weekend. It’s still early, and when it’s early, teams listen to all kinds of things and float ideas on which they’d likely not follow through. My guess is that this is one of those deals. Still, not the kind of thing you’d really expect to hear, is it?

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