PITTSBURGH. Forty-eight hours after announcing the acquisition of pitcher Dinelson Lamet from the San Diego Padres in the Josh Hader trade, the Milwaukee Brewers designated him for assignment on Wednesday afternoon.
“Dinelson has a good arm and was included in the trade to help balance out the deal,” Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns said. “Later in the deals, the listing became a little more difficult to match.” Hopefully we can keep it in our system.
Lamet in 2020 finished fourth in Cy Young voting but has since battled injuries and fluctuating results, posting a 5.46 earned run average in 59 ⅓ innings over the past two seasons.
After Lamet, 30, is designated for assignment, any other team can claim him and add him to their 40-man roster. If he clears waivers, the Brewers could place him on the minor league roster or release him.
While there was no guarantee he would play at the level the Brewers needed, as he allowed 12 earned runs over his final seven innings, the team has talked in recent days of hoping he could become a key piece in the bullpen.
“I think it was important for us to feel like we were stabilizing our bullpen to realize what a big piece Josh is and has been,” Stearns said Monday of Lamet and Taylor Rogers, the other big-league reliever sent to Milwaukee. trade “So to bring back two major league pieces that fit this group, I think it’s good.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Tuesday: “This is a guy who has been elite in this league. He’s had a lot of injuries and he’s been through some struggles. You try to help him a little bit and get him back there. But I think you ask any hitter and anybody who’s been on the sidelines and watched him pitch when he’s been good, and that’s the best slider in baseball when he’s been good.
“We have to work to get there but obviously there’s a lot of talent there and we’re signing a player with a lot of talent and we’ll see what happens.”
On the face of it, it was a head-scratching move. Let’s try to find out why the brewers did it as well as possible.
Why the Brewers decided to designate Lamet for assignment
Reading between the lines of what Stearns has said publicly — Lamet was included in the deal to “balance him out” — he was most likely brought in from a salary perspective, and when the Brewers faced a roster slump, they decided he was the final arm. in the bullpen.
Was the deal contingent on the Brewers picking up the remainder of Lamet’s $4.78 million? But it’s clear that the plans for the deal without Lamet — Hader for Taylor Rogers, Esteury Ruiz and Robert Gasser — were acceptable to the Brewers to the point where they were comfortable taking Lamet’s salary.
When the Brewers acquired reliever Matt Bush late Monday night and looked to bring back pitcher Freddy Peralta on Wednesday, they had to clear two active roster spots, and those players had to be pitchers with a 13-man limit. Peter Strzelecki, released with minor league options, was one spot.
Lamet had just recently served five years, so he could decline any minor league assignment. Had he been below that service time limit, Milwaukee would have simply drafted him. Instead, he served five years on short notice in late July when Mackenzie Gore was injured, and the Brewers then had only one option: DFA, DFA, or put one on the injured list.
“Look, we had a tough choice today,” the attorney said Wednesday. “We have 13 roster spots. It made it difficult to choose. It ended with Lamet. We chose to go in a different direction.”
Designating him for assignment two days after acquiring him, it’s fair to say the Brewers weren’t exactly committed to him as a future member of the team when they agreed to the trade, to say the least; Teams don’t just cut ties with players two days after receiving a four-time All-Star when the opposite is true.
Had the Brewers cashed in with Hader instead of absorbing Lamet and his contract, the end result — barring a scenario where Lamet stays with the organization and regains his old form — would have been the same, but without the confounding optics. But as events leading up to the trade deadline suggest, optics aren’t a top priority for the Brewers’ front office, for better or worse.
One might question why the Brewers struck out a pitcher with Lamet or why their brass spoke so highly of his potential if it was possible all along. It depends on how Lamet is evaluated and how his past performance and potential compare to his recent struggles.
Milwaukee also might have been able to push harder to get a piece they’d rather keep on the roster, such as waiving Luis Garcia or Tim Hill, if the Padres were committed to salary cap space.
Either way, Lamet may end up being the shortest-lived Brewer, but the one involved in one of the most confusing and complicated deals in recent memory.
Brewers remember Keston Hurr; Pedro Severino nominated for appointment
The Brewers also recalled Keston Huras from Class AAA and assigned catcher Pedro Severino.
Before being picked up on July 13, Hiura was one of the team’s best hitters with an .805 OPS, but he wasn’t an optimal fit for the current roster. Instead, the Brewers opted to carry three catchers, and the experiment was over.
Severino missed the first 80 games of the season after being suspended for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, and even saw sporadic playing time when he returned. He has gone 4-for-18 in eight games and was a pinch hitter in a critical spot Tuesday night.
Bush, acquired in a trade from Texas late Monday night, was activated and Strzelecki optioned to Class AAA.