The anger surrounding the Milwaukee Brewers’ trade of Josh Hader to the San Diego Padres on Monday was high and has been ongoing.
And yes, management is well aware of that.
To that end, both baseball chief operating officer David Stearns and principal owner Mark Atanasio both spent time before the team’s opening series against the Cincinnati Reds at American Family Field on Friday to explain their rationale for dealing with baseball’s best player.
“We have a really passionate fan base, and that’s one of the things that makes this an interesting place to work,” Stearns said. “We have a fan base that cares a lot about this team and they want us to win. We are united in that goal. I think it is important that we unite in that goal.
“So when you take a step, again, that takes on a very prominent and well-known figure within the organization, someone who has contributed to so much of the success that we’ve had here, I understand why there’s a backlash. I’ve also heard from a lot of fans who trust our organization, believe in our foundation, And they believe that if we make a decision like this, we have the winning interest in mind.
“And that’s absolutely true.”
While he is the main owner of the team, admittedly Atanasio still has a lot of fans. Hence, he understands the public’s reticence towards this move.
But he also said he trusts his big baseball guy to do better.
He said, “For the past several years here, Josh Hader has been one of the guys we all hooked up with. I got a call from David Stearns and Matt Arnold saying, ‘We’ve got something we want to do with Josh,'” and I really sat down.
“It’s interesting – in my years here, and it continues to this day, I’ve been criticized for having my nose inserted too much. Now I’m probably criticized for not sticking my nose up enough for how I feel about the fans and how fans feel about letting Josh go versus the men who need They did a great job here.They had a move they wanted to make, and they were hoping to do other moves.
“I don’t think in David’s tenure anywhere I vetoed anything in either direction he wanted to do. So, as an owner, accountability, and liability, but now it’s no longer available, and David runs the baseball show.”
Going point by point, here’s what Stearns and Attanasio had to say about other important topics related to the move.
How is Hader’s trading helping to win the world championship this season?
The irony certainly wasn’t lost at the thought of this question being asked with the final preparations of the “Celebration Weekend” team in the background and the members of the 1982 Major League Championship team were to be honored.
In exchange for Hader, the Brewers took on closest Taylor Rogers – a left-footed player like Hader who saved 28 games for Baderis before he was tackled (yes, he hit a rough patch and was removed from the closing inning just before the trade).
He joins a remastered Pulp and now has two potential throwers with Devin Williams, another right-handed pitcher Matt Bush (also acquired on Monday) and, possibly later in the month, another powerful right-handed pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (currently the injured).
“We definitely care about winning the world championship, and I think that is something that continued competitiveness leads to — a world championship,” Stearns said. “This is how you win a world championship – you give yourself as many qualifying opportunities as you can get. I think that’s the right approach; it’s the approach I’ve been trying to prepare this organization for since my time here.
“We try to avoid the boom-or-bust cycle. We want this organization this year, next year, three years from now, five years from now, seven years from now, when fans come to watch the Brewers game, they watch a meaningful game. They watch a team that can Go to the playoffs and the team has a legitimate chance to win the world championship.
“That’s the goal of our moves, and I think our fans share that goal.”
Here is Atanasio’s response: “You have to ask David about it. I know he had a series of other deals he wanted to do that didn’t happen. You just have to ask him about it.”
“Every presentation I do at the beginning of the season is the goal of winning the world championship. That is the goal.”
Why can’t the off-season grower be traded instead?
Quite simply, brewers felt they could get more for it now instead of waiting for the holiday season.
With the expanded playoffs, there are more teams in play and the incentive to compete for somewhere beyond the season leading up to the trading deadline. Stearns confirmed following Monday’s deal that several teams were involved in the takeover bid for Hader.
So in addition to Rogers, the Brewers also managed to impress Astori Ruiz and left-back Robert Gasser – two players who were at a very high level.
Dinelson Lamet, right-hander, who was also acquired in the deal, was assigned the task due to a roster crisis and has since been claimed by the Colorado Rockies.
“I think history has taught us that oftentimes there’s extra leverage coming from the mid-season trading deadline where there’s a dearth of supply especially for players like Josh and sometimes there might not be an off-season scarcity,” Stearns said.
Is the browers trader roaring due to financial constraints?
Both Attanasio and Stearns confirmed that Hader’s deal was done on its merits alone, and not because the team was looking to cut its payroll this season.
Hader has another year of judging left and will bring in more than $15 million for 2023. After that, he’ll lead a long-term deal that could set up a new market for thinners assuming he can stay healthy and productive.
“Reducing costs has absolutely nothing to do with this,” Atanasio said. “Every player that was available, we had the resources to pick them up – not just for this season, but to balance the seasons of their contract.
“We all know Juan Soto’s numbers. We don’t talk about it. But to get a key player, this team has the finances to do it. Dollars never got into the mix – in that or any trade that we couldn’t get done. It was not about the money.”
Then Atanasio dropped this interesting nugget: “There were no budget problems. Even with Juan Soto.”
In the three deals the brewers made, they actually got paid more than they were paying before the deadline.
“With the addition of Trevor Rosenthal, salaries have gone up,” Stearns said. “And look, we had extra flexibility on the payroll to make moves. We got involved with a number of guys on the day before the deadline and the day of the deadline that had we been able to strike a deal, our payroll would have gone up as well.
“And in the end, we didn’t close those deals because I made a decision that the talent I asked for was too high. But we had flexibility on the payroll to do that if we saw the talent asking was appropriate.”
What about the effect of trade on the club?
Anyone who follows The Brewers has undoubtedly seen the video of Williams, who appeared agonized and distraught in the wake of Hader’s transition — Stearns included.
Players are not robots. They have emotions and feelings and some, like Williams, put their hearts on their sleeves.
But they also have a job to do – keep trying and win matches.
“I proactively reached out to a number of players the day we traded and then the next, to make sure they knew they had a way to talk to me if they wanted to,” Stearns said. “Look, I want our players to focus on winning games at the Major League level every day, I want our players’ priority to be ‘winning now,’ winning today. That’s their job.”
“So when they see a move where there’s no longer a very good player in the team, and a player with whom a lot of them have had very close relationships, I think it’s very normal that there will be some surprise, in some cases, some disappointment and that’s what we felt and that’s what we saw.” .
“(But) from what I’ve heard from our players, our players also trust this organization, believe in this organization, and understand that any step we take – even if it’s a really difficult step – will have the best interest in taking care of the organization.”
“These guys are getting incredibly close. We’re all getting close,” Atanasio added. “When the deals are done during the winter, you have the winter to process them. When they are done in the middle of the season, it’s a little annoying. It’s part of the game.”
Why didn’t the beer machines add a bat or two?
As Stearns pointed out, the cost of players who ultimately didn’t move was too high in his view in terms of potential capital for an organization that had spent the past few years trying to rebuild its minor league system.
Would fans have been happy if the Brewers had replaced someone like Sal Frelick, Garrett Mitchell, Joey Wiemer or Ethan Small with a rental paddle?
Maybe some will. But that also wouldn’t align with the organizational philosophy of “getting as many pieces of the apple as possible” in terms of staying consistently competitive.
Also, as mentioned earlier, the extended playoffs changed the approach of some teams heading to the deadline.
“There was definitely a difference that maybe in the earlier deadlines she could have been a lot more bold in trading some of her pieces that she decided to keep,” Stearns said. “And so I think it’s possible that the expanded playoffs could be a factor.”
Are Ruiz and Jasser really good?
Lists of leads are very subjective, of course, and many will point to the fact that Padres sent their best to the Washington natives in exchange for Juan Soto.
But Stearns & Co. is very high on what Ruiz and Gasser bring to the table.
“They’re two very high prospects, and they’re potential in the upper echelons of our minor leagues – and I think that’s important,” Stearns said. “These are not junior players, A-ball players. We have made important deals during my time here for rookie and A-ball players. But in this case, we felt that bringing the players closest to the big leagues and having the ability to impact this team in the near future was important. .
“And that’s what we did. Robert Gasser is the bowler we targeted off the draft (in 2021); we know him exceptionally well. He’s in Double-A now but we think he can move quickly through Double-A and we think he can be an effective player. Very in the major league for a long time here.
“Esterury Ruiz is arguably the most exciting rookie in MLB. He’s had a phenomenal season. He’s one of the fastest players in MLB who is starting to develop some strength as a massive kid. So, adding these types of high-profile, high-profile talent to our organization Plus bringing someone with an all-star lineage closest to Taylor Rogers is the reason we made this deal.
“With all that said, I understand why there is still some frustration at losing Josh Hader.”
Stearns said Ruiz can play in the middle, and that he and Frelick, Mitchell and Wiemer will all watch time center in Class AAA Nashville.
He is also likely to be one of the four with the Brewers by the end of the season.
What about Rosenthal?
It seemed odd on the surface that the Brewers would trade someone at Rosenthal who hasn’t played in the majors since 2020 due to injury, and has yet to make a game this season after sustaining a hamstring injury while training with the teams. Free agent.
So where is the veteran in terms of his rehabilitation?
“I know he wants to push us faster than we think he should go,” Stearns said. “I think we’re looking, responsibly, to the end of August, the beginning of September, where that would probably be.”