After being near quiet in the offseason, the New York Yankees made some big waves across baseball with the resigning of DJ LeMahieu, signing Corey Kluber, and trading for potential ace Jameson Taillon. But the Yankees still have needs. The Yankees lost two arms from the bullpen, first Tommy Kahnle, who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers and then traded Adam Ottavino to the Red Sox in a salary dump. The dump took $8.15M off the luxury tax salary cap.
According to Spotrac.com, the Yankees payroll is presently at $199.2 million. So the Yankees have freed up about $10 million. In the past few days, I have written about several reliever arms the Yankees could get on the cheap. But the Yankees could use a reliever of Tommy Kahnle’s quality. One of the best relievers in the game is the 26-year-old Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers. The catch is the Brewers don’t need to move Hader, and in a trade, they will want the world for him.
Before we discuss what it would take to get Hader to the Bronx, let’s look at why the Yankees would love to put him in pinstripes. First, he is the best reliever in the National League. Last season with 13 saves, he has a career 2.54 ERA over 172 relief outings in four MLB seasons, all with the Brewers. And that wasn’t a fluke. In 2018 he went 6-1, was an All-Star, and came in seventh in the Cy Young voting. In 2019 he had a 2.62 ERA and was again an All-Star. Because of these stats, it’s going to cost the Yankees if they pursue him.
Industry sources confirm that the New York Yankees were in talks with the Brewers to get Hader earlier in the offseason but, for some reason, backed off. You never know what Yankee general manager Brian Cashman has up his sleeve. He may be waiting to see what other offers are made for the reliever, just like he waited to see what action DJ LeMahieu would get from other suiters.
Other than Hader being one of the best relievers in the game, there are other upsides to a deal. The Yankees can afford his payroll of $6.65M this year. If they could complete the trade, the Yankees would have control of him through the 2023 season. The stumbling block to the deal is that they will probably want Deivi Garcia, Alexander Vizcaino, and two more prospects. The Yankees have already sent four prospects to the Pirates in exchange for Taillon. Although this wouldn’t strip the farm system, it would put a pretty big dent in it. The Yankees have to decide if it is worth it. We all know when Cashman really wants something, he can be really creative.
So far this season, he has gotten LeMahieu for as much as $10 million less per year than many suggested. He made the trade for Jameson Taillon, giving up no major prospects. The New York Yankees can afford this deal should they get aggressive and build a top-notch bullpen. If they make the Hader deal they still will have a couple of million to add another arm. On Hader’s part, he would have to cut his famous locks for a chance at a World Series win.