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Brewers Make LHP Josh Hader Untouchable in Trade Talks

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

The Milwaukee Brewers are actively searching the trade market for a starting pitcher, but don’t expect left-handed pitcher Josh Hader to be apart of any trade discussions.

A report states that the Brewers have refused to include Hader in any trade talks/proposals this winter, and that doesn’t plan on changing, even after their division rival Chicago Cubs signed Yu Darvish to a six-year contract on Saturday. There are at least two separate times Hader’s name has came up in trade talks, with the most recent occurrence coming when the Brewers asked the Toronto Blue Jays about the availability of right-hander Marcus Stroman.

The Brewers were told that the Blue Jays weren’t interested in trading Stroman, but they believed that they could still make a compelling offer to at least get the Blue Jays to think about parting with the controllable ace. Once the Blue Jays said Hader would be required in any trade, that’s when talks started to stall. The second time Hader’s name was brought up in trade talks was with the Miami Marlins. We all know about Miami trading outfielder Christian Yelich to the Brewers, but what we didn’t know at first was that the Brewers were also seeking catcher J.T. Realmuto in the deal.

While the Brewers are content with their catcher situation right now with Manny Pina and Stephen Vogt set to man the backstop in 2018, they were indeed very interested in seeing if they could add on Realmuto in the Yelich deal. The Brewers had already felt like they gave a lot to get Yelich individually, so when they were told that to get Realmuto they would have to include Hader and potentially others, they settled on just acquiring Yelich.

It makes total sense why the Brewers don’t want to part with Hader. When the team called him up in June of last season, he and Anthony Swarzak completely changed the Brewers bullpen for the better, as the two of them were dynamic at holding leads to get the ball to all-star closer Corey Knebel in the 9th inning. And now with Swarzak gone for the New York Mets, it’s all the more critical that the Brewers keep Hader, because the bullpen would have a glaring hole without him.

Milwaukee also still believes that Hader can become an elite starting pitcher at the Major League level. Two major reasons why Hader isn’t being given the shot to start right now for the Brewers is that they need him in the bullpen, and that they believe he needs to further develop his secondary pitches, and cut down on his walks. He averaged 4.2 walks per 9 innings last season, but 12.8 strikeouts per 9 innings, so you can see why the Brewers think highly of him, and believe he still needs more development.

Also reportedly in the untouchable category is shortstop Orlando Arcia, who made significant strides at the plate in 2017. Milwaukee is said to be expecting big things from him in 2018, which could mean that they would like the 23-year-old Arcia to improve on his pitch recognition and draw more walks. The good news is Arcia will never be a player that will strike out a lot, but he needs to do better than a 6.6% walk rate.

As mentioned above, with Darvish going to the Cubs, the Brewers are pivoting their attention to the rest of the remaining free agent starters. The three big name ones left on the market are Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn. The Brewers have touched base with all three of these starters, with their interest being mostly directed towards Arrieta.

The Brewers have been linked to Arrieta ever since the off-season started, and with a return to the Cubs now ruled out, the Brewers believe they are in great position to sign the 2015 National League Cy Young Award Winner. The two sides have been reportedly discussing a five-year, $110 million deal, but after seeing the contract specifics Darvish received from the Cubs, Arrieta is expected to seek similar out of the Brewers, and other teams.

You can also believe that the Brewers would love to pry Chris Archer away from Tampa Bay in a trade as well, as they want to pair Arrieta and Archer together as apart of their dream rotation that would feature Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, and Jhoulys Chacin. That doesn’t even include Jimmy Nelson, who is expected to return to the team at some point in June following shoulder surgery. Nelson was Milwaukee’s top pitcher in their surprise 2017 season.

So while Brewers general manager David Stearns continues to play coy with the media, don’t let it fool you. The Brewers have something coming once again, and if they get it just the way they want, it’s going to be a fun summer Milwaukee, and a fun season for baseball in the National League Central.

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About Tony Montalto (2097 Articles)
Twitter: @tony_montalto

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