Houston Astros Eye Josh Hader With Intentions To Add Him To the Closing Rotation

Houston Astros Eye Josh Hader With Intentions To Add Him To the Closing Rotation

In a bold move that could shake up their bullpen dynamics, the Houston Astros are reportedly pursuing free agent Josh Hader, one of the game's most formidable closers. This development comes amid speculation about the future role of Ryan Pressly, the team's current closer and a proven postseason performer.

The Astros' interest in Hader, a 29-year-old powerhouse, is a clear indication of their desire to bolster their bullpen, especially after the departure of key relievers like Kendall Graveman, Hector Neris, Ryne Stanek, and Phil Maton. Hader, known for his dominant pitching, has set his sights on a contract exceeding Edwin Díaz’s five-year, $102 million deal with the New York Mets, currently the record for a reliever.

Hader's acquisition, however, comes with a cost beyond the financial implications. Having rejected a qualifying offer from the San Diego Padres, any team signing him, including the Astros, would forfeit a draft pick. This decision underscores the Astros' commitment to immediate success, prioritizing experience and proven skill over potential future talent.

The pursuit of Hader isn't the first time the Astros have shown interest in strengthening their pitching staff through high-profile acquisitions. Last season's trade deadline saw them eyeing both a starter and a reliever from the Padres, with team owner Jim Crane and general manager Dana Brown ultimately securing Justin Verlander, a move that Crane played a significant role in.

Crane's involvement in baseball operations decisions has been a hallmark of his ownership, often leading to strategic and impactful signings. However, securing Hader would mark a departure from Crane's usual approach, potentially setting a new benchmark for the largest free-agent deal under his tenure. It could also push the Astros over the $237 million competitive balance tax threshold, a limit they have only exceeded once before.

The addition of Hader raises intriguing questions about the handling of the closer role by Joe Espada, the team's first-year manager. With Hader's track record and the potential investment in him, it seems unlikely he would be brought in to share closing duties. This could lead to a significant role change for Pressly, who has been exceptional in postseason scenarios.

As negotiations continue, the Astros find themselves at a crossroads, balancing the pursuit of immediate bullpen dominance with the long-term implications of such a high-profile signing. The outcome of these discussions will be eagerly watched by fans and analysts alike, as the Astros look to solidify their position as a powerhouse in the league.