Josh Hader
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Yankees should not pay the heavy price for Josh Hader when they don’t even need to add the left-handed reliever.

Josh Benjamin

Josh Hader would be great in the New York Yankees‘ bullpen.

The numbers don’t lie. Since debuting with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017, the tall lefty has a 2.42 ERA. Hader also has 349 strikeouts in just 204.2 innings of work. Thirty-seven of his 49 career saves came last year.

And according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Yankees “have been the most active pursuer” of Hader. The team could be short an arm if Dellin Betances walks in free agency, so adding Hader would make sense.

Sorry to spoil the party, Yankees fans, but this would be a rare bad move on the part of general manager Brian Cashman. Josh Hader is great, no doubt, but he’s the last thing the Yankees need, especially after New York just gave star righty Gerrit Cole $324 million.

Adding Hader would also be too expensive for the Yankees’ blood on several levels. Given the strength of the team’s core now, trade talks involving Hader should be canceled immediately.

An already strong bullpen

Josh Hader spent the 2019 season as Milwaukee’s closer, a role he filled naturally. His blazing fastball and cunning slider kept hitters off balance constantly. At 25 years old, his career really is just beginning.

At least, it would be if he remains in Milwaukee. Were Hader to become a Yankee, he most certainly would not be the closer. The Yankees already made sure of that when they extended Aroldis Chapman last month. The Cuban Missile is owed $48 million through 2022, so he’s staying put for now.

In New York, Hader would just be a piece of the deep bridge to Chapman. Given the presence of Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino, and others, just where Hader would fit in the bullpen is a mystery.

Not only that, but it’s clear the Yankees view Hader as a possible replacement should Betances leave in free agency. This makes sense, as Betances made $7.25 million in an injury-plagued 2019 and will still command a raise for next year. Josh Hader, meanwhile, is only expected to make $4.6 million in arbitration according to Spotrac.

Except, even without Betances for all but one game, the Yankees’ bullpen still ranked ninth in MLB with a 4.08 ERA last season. Given how many injuries New York dealt with, that number is pretty solid.

Most important of all, from Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera to Betances to Chad Green, the Yankees know how to develop bullpen arms. Even without a World Series title to call their own since 2009, the Yankees are a lock to have a strong, deep bullpen.

Guys like Jonathan Loaisiga and Ben Heller are on the roster and cheap. Why pull off a big trade to land Hader?

A trade too big

And a big trade it would indeed take for Josh Hader to put on the pinstripes. He’s 25 years old, a budding closer, and has four years of arbitration coming before he hits the market at 30. Sure, the Brewers could just buy those years out with an extension, but Hader’s value is high enough to at least consider a trade.

If the Yankees are as interested in Hader as Rosenthal claims, however, Cashman has his work cut out for him. This won’t be like the Sonny Gray trade when the Oakland A’s took on a pair of injured prospects to unload a contract. Nor will it be like when the Yankees gave the Baltimore Orioles some low-level prospects for Britton.

No, the Milwaukee Brewers will want New York to give up more than just J.A. Happ’s contract. Milwaukee GM David Stearns will want not only prime MLB-ready talent but also significant prospects. One must assume the Brewers will ask for Deivi Garcia, and they’d be justified in doing so. Hader is just that talented.

Cue the extensive negotiations, back-and-forth, and dust settling, and it just doesn’t make sense for Josh Hader to be a Yankee. It isn’t a knock against the man. He’s easily the best young reliever in the game. If the Brewers do opt to trade him, even if it is for money reasons, the return package should match his talent.

The Yankees could theoretically make a deal, but it doesn’t mean they necessarily should.

Gerrit Cole, Cole Train T-Shirt

Final thoughts

There’s a scene in the cinematic classic Scarface in which a rival gangster is described as a chazzer, a Yiddish term to describe a pig. In the human context, it means someone who desires more they actually need.

Call this writer old-fashioned, but the Yankees’ pursuit of Josh Hader reeks of garden variety greed. The rotation just got stronger with the addition of Cole, and now so should the bullpen with Hader.

Except, that’s not the case. The Yankees’ bullpen was fine last year when short an arm, fine to the tune of New York winning 103 games. If Cashman absolutely must add another reliever, he should just re-sign Betances. If Betances is too pricey, the Yankees already have young pitchers who deserve an opportunity to fill his spot.

Josh Hader, meanwhile, would just hit the Yankees hard from a farm system standpoint. After a 103-win season despite an injury-riddled roster, the man just isn’t worth that kind of price.

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