Who are the players the Milwaukee Brewers got back in the Josh Hader trade from the Padres?
The Milwaukee Brewers made a splash Monday afternoon by trading away three-time National League reliever of the year Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres.
In return, the Brewers got big-league ready relievers Taylor Rogers and Dinelson Lamet, and prospects Esteury Ruiz and Robert Gasser.
You know the names, now get to know the actual players heading over to the Brewers organization.
If the Brewers were going to move Hader in the middle of a playoff race, it was critical to them to be able to buoy that loss to at least some degree by acquiring an impact reliever in the deal. Rogers, over his career, has fit that bill.
The 31-year-old left-hander has a 3.29 career earned-run average and 78 saves since debuting in 2016 with Minnesota. The Padres acquired him via trade this past offseason, and he has a 4.35 ERA with 28 saves in 42 games.
Rogers, similar to Hader, got off to a strong start in 2022 before fading recently. He sported a 1.64 ERA through May before a four-run outing against the Brewers on June 2 kicked off a span of allowing 16 earned runs over 19⅓ innings.
Some of Rogers' underlying numbers indicate that he could have been the recipient of some bad luck. His strikeout-to-walk rate is still a very strong 5.33 but he has been burned by a .333 batting average on balls in play and a 61% left-on-base percentage.
Rogers is a free agent at year's end.
"In Taylor’s case, a lot of this was and is reliever volatility that we can see," Stearns said. "We think this is a good pitcher who’s going to perform for us. And we think our staff will be able to get the best out of him.”
Lamet was at his best in the shortened 2020 season, earning a fourth-place finish in Cy Young Award voting after sporting a 2.09 ERA with 93 strikeouts over 69 innings and 12 starts.
Since then, though, the 30-year-old righthander has battled concerning injuries and up-and-down performance. Lamet suffered a UCL sprain in his throwing elbow in his final start of 2020 and missed the playoffs that year, then landed on the injured list four times with elbow-related concerns in 2021.
He was moved to a bullpen role for the final month of 2021 after missing more than two months and, unless something changes regarding the concerns with his elbow, is likely a reliever moving forward.
The Brewers hope they will be able to unlock Lamet's dominant abilities from two years ago. He features a devastating slider that he throws nearly 60% of the time to go along with a fastball that averages 95.3 mph, down a couple of ticks from when it was at 97 mph in 2020.
Lamet is third-year arbitration-eligible this year and could reach free agency following the 2023 season. He is making $4.78 million this year.
He has a 5.46 ERA over 51⅓ innings since the start of 2021, but the Brewers will take a chance at helping him regain his form and turn into a dominant power arm once again.
"For now, we'll look at him as a bullpen pitcher," Stearns said. "This is a player with a robust injury history but he is pitching healthy at the moment."
Ruiz, a 23-year-old outfield prospect from the Dominican Republic, is perhaps the key long-term piece to the deal for the Brewers.
Few prospects in baseball have had as big a breakout in 2022 as Ruiz, who batted .333/.467/.560 with an eye-catching 60 steals and 52 walks to 65 strikeouts over 77 games between Class AA and AAA.
Minor-league evaluators' opinions on Ruiz vary.
One scout told the Journal Sentinel that Ruiz profiles as a potential everyday outfielder with solid bat-to-ball skills whose speed will make a major impact on games and could be worth 3 to 4 Wins Above Replacement from year to year.
“There is a chance we could see Ruiz in the majors at some point this season," Stearns said. "He will begin his time with us in Triple-A, and we’ll go from there. This is now a player who’s had some major league experience, a very talented athlete and gifted outfielder.
Another evaluator was hesitant on Ruiz's profile because the batting-practice exit velocity numbers haven't matched the in-game production. There are concerns with the swing, even with the impressive walk-to-strikeout numbers.
There are a variety of outcomes with Ruiz, and which one he lands on will be pivotal to how the trade turns out.
Gasser, a 23-year-old left-handed pitcher, was at Class High-A for the Padres and flashed high-strikeout potential in his first full year of professional ball after being taken in the second round of the 2021 draft.
Gasser, over 18 starts at 90⅓ innings, has struck out 115 batters while walking just 28. MLB Pipeline slotted him in as the No. 8 Brewers prospect following the trade.
Gasser has mid-rotation starting pitcher upside thanks in large part to his plus control. The Brewers have excelled in years past at developing their minor-league pitchers and currently have a system devoid of many significant arms, so Gasser fills a need in that regard.
"This is, in our opinion, quietly one of the better pitching prospects in baseball right now," Stearns said. "He was one of the targets of ours out of Houston in the draft. The Padres did a great job selecting him, have done a great job with his development the first year or so of his professional career, and we’re really excited to get him into our organization.”
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Brewers get Taylor Rogers, Dinelson Lamet, Esteury Ruiz for Josh Hader