Josh Hader Signs With Astros

Josh Hader 01.20.24
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Five time All-Star Josh Hader has signed with the Houston Astros. The deal was first reported on Friday by Jeff Passan of ESPN. The five year- $95 million dollar contract is the largest in MLB history for any reliever. It surpasses the contract that  New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz signed last offseason. Diaz signed a five year- $102 million, but after $26 million was deferred, its realized value is $93 million.

This move was a response to the news of Astros reliever Kendall Graveman missing the entirety of the 2024 season after he had offseason shoulder surgery. This now matches Hader with Astros closer Ryan Pressly, one of the best closers in baseball. This gives the Astros possibly the best one-two punch out of the bullpen in all of baseball. Pressly has 90 saves over the past three seasons with a with a 2.94 ERA in 177 2/3 IP. It will be interesting to see how the Astros manage the two and who will get the majority of the save situations versus the high leverage eight innings.

Josh Hader’s Bounce Back in 2023

From 2017 to 2021, Hader was the best closer in all of baseball. He even came in seventh place in Cy-Young voting in 2018. Over that span, Hader threw 282 1/3 innings with a 2.26 ERA and 96 saves. His 15.4 K/9 and 190 ERA+ both led the league during that span. He looked like he was on the road to a Hall of Fame career until 2022 when he unraveled in a major way.

In 2022, he started out his season throwing 34 innings with the Milwaukee Brewers. In those 34 innings, he had a 4.24 ERA, 96 ERA+, and an over 1.000 WHIP for the first time in his career. This led to him being dealt at the trade deadline to the surging San Diego Padres. He would continue to struggle to finish out the 2022 season with the Padres, pitching 16 innings to the tune of a 7.31 ERA. He did seem to figure things out during the Padres’ playoff push in 2022, throwing 5 1/3 innings of scoreless ball with five saves.

This performance bled into his 2023 season where he completely remade his image around baseball. He quietly put together one of the best seasons of his career. In 2023, he threw 56 1/3 innings with a 1.28 ERA, 33 saves, and a ridiculous 321 ERA+.  He was able to re-establish himself as the top left handed reliever in all of baseball and earned himself the largest contract for a reliever in the history of baseball.

Houston Astros Bullpen in 2024

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The Astros’ bullpen turned out to be one of the best in 2023. As a team, their bullpen had a 3.56 ERA, a 10.03 K/9, and a 3.8 fWAR. Bryan Abreu, Hector Neris, and Phil Maton complemented Pressly nicely. All with sub a 3.00 ERA and above a 140 ERA+ in 60 or more innings. The only piece they were missing was a dominate left handed arm in the back end of their bullpen. This is the perfect landing spot for Josh Hader. With how consistent Pressly has been over the last three season, it would make sense he would start as the closer early in the year. Signing Hader gives new Astros manager Joe Espada plenty of matchup options in late game scenarios.

 

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