The Houston Astros have made another big splash this offseason, agreeing to terms with elite relief pitcher Josh Hader on a record-setting 5-year, $95 million contract on Thursday. The deal shatters the previous record for a reliever contract, set last offseason when the New York Mets signed closer Edwin Diaz to a 5-year, $102 million pact.
Key Details of Hader’s New Astros Contract
|Average Annual Value
|Full No-Trade Clause
|2029 season worth $19M+
By adding Hader, the World Series runners-up have quickly rebuilt their bullpen into arguably the best in baseball after it was ravaged in free agency this winter.
Backstory – Astros Lose Key Relievers, Set Sights on Hader
The Astros bullpen was lights out in 2022, with a league-best 2.80 ERA. However, they lost their closer Ryan Pressly and setup man Rafael Montero in free agency. Knowing they needed to restock, the team turned their attention to Hader, the game’s preeminent lefty reliever.
The 28-year-old Hader has been utterly dominant since converting to a full-time reliever, making 4 All-Star teams in 5 seasons out of the Milwaukee bullpen. He won back-to-back NL Reliever of the Year awards in 2018 and 2019. Last season, he recorded an incredible 37 saves and 0.92 WHIP between Milwaukee and San Diego.
What This Means for the Astros’ Bullpen
The addition of Hader gives Houston a new shutdown closer to replace Pressly and significantly strengthens their bullpen along with returnees like Hector Neris, Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton.
Hader joins an Astros team that has won 106+ games and made it to at least the ALCS in each of the past 6 seasons. With Hader now at the back end, their bullpen shapes up to be even better than the 2022 version that was nearly unhittable in October.
How Hader Fits into a Win-Now Strategy for Houston
The defending AL champion Astros have clearly been in win-now mode this winter. Along with the Hader signing, they brought back ace Justin Verlander on a 2-year deal and added All-Star 1B Jose Abreu.
After falling just short in the World Series, the Astros are pushing their chips in and assembling what looks like one of the most complete and balanced MLB rosters heading into 2024.
At 28 years old, Hader aligns perfectly with Houston’s current contention window. His age and elite performance match the Astros’ win-now approach perfectly.
Hader Chooses Houston Over Other Suitors
Josh Hader drew significant interest from several clubs looking to upgrade their bullpen this winter. Most notably, Hader reportedly turned down larger offers from both the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees to sign with Houston.
Both L.A. and New York reportedly made offers in excess of $100 million over 5 or 6 years. However, Hader prioritized joining an immediate World Series contender in Houston.
What’s Next for the Revamped Astros Bullpen
With Hader now in tow and the rest of the roster loaded, expectations will be World Series or bust for the 2024 Astros. If the bullpen can stay healthy, it has a chance to be historically dominant with Hader, Neris, Stanek and Maton as the core group.
Houston will expect Hader to anchor the pen by closing games and pitching in high-leverage situations late in contests. Given his track record, he should have no issues sliding into that role for a championship-level team.
Barring injuries, adding Hader makes the Astros a scary team and arguably the favorite to win it all heading into spring training. It will be exciting to watch how their retooled bullpen comes together this season as they set their sights firmly on winning that elusive World Series crown.
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