SAN DIEGO – The San Diego Padres acquired All-Star closer Josh Hader from the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday in exchange for recently benched closer Taylor Rogers and three other players in a blockbuster deal between NL playoff contenders.
The NL Central-leading Brewers shipped one of the game’s top relievers to the Padres for Rogers, right-hander Dinelson Lamet, outfielder Esteury Ruiz and pitching prospect Robert Gasser.
The trade features the two big league saves leaders. Hader has 29 saves while Rogers has 28, though the Padres recently removed Rogers from the closer role after he blew consecutive opportunities in a series at Detroit. The Padres obtained Rogers from Minnesota on opening day.
“Josh Hader is one of the best closers in the league,” Padres general manager A.J. Preller said. “He’s been there, done that, pitched in big spots, big playoff games. He’s got elite stuff.”
San Diego also finalized a $100 million, five-year contract with right-hander Joe Musgrove that starts next year. The 29-year-old Musgrove is 8-4 with a 2.65 ERA in 18 starts this season.
Hader, the NL reliever of the year three times in the last four seasons, has a career-high 4.24 ERA after enduring one of his worst slumps just before the All-Star break.
The left-hander allowed five homers and 12 runs over 4 1/3 innings in a stretch of six appearances in early July, increasing his ERA from 1.05 to 4.50. Hader otherwise has allowed just four runs in 29 2/3 innings.
And hitters continue to have all kind of trouble making contact against him. Hader has struck out 59 batters in 34 innings. He has blown only two of his 31 save opportunities.
Hader, 28, is making $11 million this year and is eligible for arbitration again in the offseason. He could become a free agent after 2023. His gradually increasing salary had raised speculation with each trade deadline that the budget-conscious Brewers might deal him.
This time, they made the move.
“We felt this was the right time, and it was only a player of that caliber that could garner such a significant return to make such an impact on the future of the organization,” Brewers President of Baseball Operations David Stearns said.
The Brewers also might have been convinced by the emergence of All-Star reliever and 2020 NL Rookie of the Year Devin Williams, who has 30 consecutive scoreless appearances. Stearns declined to speculate on whether Williams or Rogers would take over as closer, saying that decision would be left up to manger Craig Counsell.
Hader issued an Instagram post thanking the city of Milwaukee for embracing him. He had spent his entire major league career with the Brewers, who acquired him along with Adrian Houser, Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana in a 2015 trade that sent Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers to the Houston Astros.
“Thank you for the support throughout my career,” Hader said. “Y’all have been great to me. The people, the energy, the love! There will always be a special place in my heart for MKE."
Rogers is 1-5 with a 4.35 ERA and seven blown saves. After a strong start to the season, Rogers posted a 5.59 ERA in June and a 9.31 ERA in July. He can become a free agent after the season.
“In Taylor’s case, a lot of this was and is reliever volatility that we can see,” Stearns said of Rogers' recent struggles. "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 has struggled this season with an 0-1 record and 9.49 ERA in 13 appearances, well above his career ERA of 4.08.
The 23-year-old Ruiz has hit well above .300 at both the Double-A and Triple-A levels this season and was hitting .222 in 14 games with San Diego. Gasser, a second-round draft pick last year, has gone 4-9 with a 4.18 ERA at the high Single-A level this year.
The Brewers will assign Ruiz to Triple-A Nashville and Gasser to Double-A Biloxi.
Milwaukee has a three-game lead over St. Louis in the NL Central, and the Padres have a 1 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia for the second NL wild card.
AP Sports Writer Steve Megargee in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
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