The San Diego Padres shocked the baseball world when they pulled off a stunning trade at the trade deadline that netted them Josh Hader from the Milwaukee Brewers. The Padres acquired one of the best (if not the best) closers in baseball to try and help them win the World Series.
Hader had his struggles to begin his Padres tenure, but he'd turn it on in the postseason and have an unbelievable year in 2023. The southpaw had a sparkling 1.23 ERA in 61 appearances and 56.1 innings pitched. He'd convert 33 saves in 38 opportunities. The team might've been a huge disappointment this past season, but Hader certainly did his job.
With the Padres attempting to lower their payroll for next season and the 29-year-old hitting free agency, it's safe to say his time in San Diego has come to an end. Hader seemed to hint at this partnership being over with his end-of-season Instagram post.
Now, as the Padres attempt to compete in 2024, they'll look to do so without their dominant closer. Replacing him is virtually impossible, but there are three ways they can go about finding their new closer.
1) Padres trade target to replace Josh Hader: David Bednar
David Bednar was selected by the Padres in the 35th round of the 2016 MLB Draft and had low odds of even making it to the majors. He did so with the Padres in 2019, but in his 17 appearances with the club from 2019-2020, he had a 6.75 ERA in 17.1 innings of work.
In the 2020 offseason, Bednar was one of five players the Padres traded in a three-team deal involving the Pirates and Mets that sent Joey Lucchesi to New York, Bednar to Pittsburgh, and Joe Musgrove to San Diego. The Padres obviously have done exceptionally well in that deal as Musgrove is one of the best pitchers in the National League, but Bednar has developed into a star in his own right with the Pirates.
The right-hander made his second straight All-Star team this past season and posted a 2.00 ERA in 66 appearances and 67.1 innings pitched. He led the league with 39 saves and had just three blown saves all year. He wasn't quite Hader, but he blew fewer saves in more tries even with more runs allowed.
He's excellent with three more years of team control, but the Pirates did make him available at the deadline. It'd be a steep price to pay to acquire Bednar, but it could be worth it with the gaping hole left by Hader's departure needing to be filled. Bednar is the best reliever by far who could realistically be available.