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MLB Insider Discusses Trade Proposal Sending Josh Hader To Mets

Find out what one MLB Insider believes it would take for the Mets to acquire star closer Josh Hader from the Brewers.

When the lockout finally ends, and MLB transactions re-open for business, the Mets must address their pitching staff ahead of the 2022 season.

Although the Mets need to add another starting pitcher in their rotation behind co-aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer, they still have holes to tend to in their bullpen as well.

And one way they can upgrade their bullpen is by potentially landing an elite arm who can come in and shut the door during the late-innings of a game.

That's why MLB Insider Jim Bowden of The Athletic signed off on a possible trade scenario for the Mets to acquire star closer Josh Hader from the Brewers. 

During a fan mailbag, one individual proposed a package of Jeff McNeil, Dom Smith and the No. 5 ranked prospect in the Mets' farm system, starting pitcher J.T. Ginn, in exchange for Hader. And Bowden loved the idea for both sides, calling it an offer that the Brewers can't refuse, as well as a "game-changer" for the Mets. 

The Mets already intend on placing McNeil on the trading block after the lockout ends, and Smith is expected to be made available as well. Both position players are under cheap control for the next three seasons, and have shown promise throughout their big-league careers.

Particularly McNeil, who made the All-Star team in 2019 and slashed .319/.383/.501/.884 across his first 1,000 career at-bats. While McNeil is currently slated to be the Mets' starting second baseman in 2022, the team plans on shopping him before the season begins with their eye on acquiring pitching help in return.

And Hader would fit this bill, considering he has been one of the best closers in baseball since taking over this role in Milwaukee on a full-time basis in 2019. In 232 career appearances, Hader is 96-for-112 in save chances, has a 2.26 ERA, 191 ERA+, 0.854 WHIP and an astounding 15.4 K/9. The three-time All-Star was also the fastest player in MLB history to reach 400 career strikeouts, doing so in 234.2 innings, and holds several records for most consecutive strikeouts (16) and most consecutive hitless appearances (12). 

The left-hander has been off the charts since breaking into the league in 2017, and this was never more evident than in his latest campaign, where he posted 34 saves in 35 chances, a 1.23 ERA, 348 ERA+, 1.69 FIP, 0.835 WHIP and 15.6 K/9 across 58.2 innings.

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So, with the Mets current closer, Edwin Diaz, heading into his final year of arbitration in 2022, the team could look at Hader as an immediate replacement/succession plan. If the Mets were to acquire Hader, Diaz would likely shift into an eighth-inning role next season, before hitting free agency after the year. Hader, 27, is under cheap control for the next two seasons and is projected to make just $8 million in 2022, per spotrac.

At first glance, this move seems like a no-brainer for the Mets and would transform their bullpen into one of the top units in the league. 

However, the one player that might prevent the Mets from pulling the trigger here is Ginn. The Mets are very high on the 22-year-old right-hander out of Mississippi State, who posted a 5-5 record, 3.03 ERA, 1.054 WHIP and 7.9 K/9 across 18 starts between low-and-high A ball in his first season as a pro in 2021. Ginn, a second-round selection by the Mets in the 2020 MLB Draft, was building up arm strength after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the previous year, but he performed as well as anyone could have hoped in his first season back on the mound following this procedure.

A number of scouts have also been impressed with his ability to induce soft contact and ground balls. During his time with the Brooklyn Cyclones, Ginn posted a 64% ground ball rate in 53.1 innings last season. The righty has tremendous stuff, throwing 97 mph with sink, and featuring a plus slider as his main swing-and-miss pitch. Ginn's changeup is currently a work in progress, but it has already flashed as an above average pitch, per SNY.

Ginn is projected to be a mid-rotation starter in the majors, but he is progressing towards the big-leagues and should be close by the end of next season, assuming he starts off in Double-A and finishes in Triple-A Syracuse. The Mets' pitching depth is also razor thin in their minor league system, which would make it difficult to part ways with one of their best prospects.

So, It's definitely a tough call for the Mets, who would be acquiring a stud closer in Hader to plug into a win-now roster, but at the same time would be dipping into their already weak farm system by trading their second-highest ranked pitching prospect, who has already flashed some potential. 

In the end, general manager Billy Eppler's decision might depend on whether landing Hader for at least the next two seasons raises their World Series odds in both the short and long-term. And, if giving up Ginn would be too high of a price since their farm system's pitching depth is currently depleted.

Lastly, Smith is blocked by Pete Alonso at first base, Robinson Cano at DH and Brandon Nimmo and Mark Canha in the corner outfield spots. But McNeil is projected to start at second, which means the Mets would have to find a replacement in the infield to take his spot if they decide to ship him out of town as well. The Mets have top infield prospects Mark Vientos, Brett Baty and Ronny Mauricio rapidly progressing through the minors, but none of these options are expected to be ready for the majors by Opening Day. 

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