Josh Hader would take the Dodgers' bullpen to the next level
Going into the second half of the 2023 season, the Dodgers' bullpen currently ranks as the fourth best by fWAR (3.9) in the entire league. Evan Phillips, Caleb Ferguson, and Brusdar Graterol have been great at holding down the late innings of games for LA. However, every single contender should look to add bullpen depth at the trade deadline, and that's where we wish Josh Hader could come into play.
After weirdly struggling last year with both the Brewers and the Padres, it looks like Hader has found himself again in 2023. He has posted a 1.00 ERA in 38 appearances this season with 54 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched. The walks are a little concerning, but one can live with them considering the quality of his stuff and the fact that his Statcast page is still baseball geek porn.
Other than just being a very, very good reliever, Hader has the added bonus of being a pending free agent which, in theory, should keep any potential asking price from the Padres lower. However, he's also not cheap in terms of payroll -- he's making $14.1 million this season which, aside from the Dodgers' specific payroll concerns, is a lot to pay any reliever.
In the end, Hader does seem like a guy that could be on the move if the Padres do decide to sell as a pending free agent. However, between the Dodgers wanting to possibly reset their luxury tax penalties and the whole "AJ Preller would cut his own arm before helping the Dodgers" thing, this is another move where we will just have to wonder what might have been.