The Houston Astros finally made a splash this offseason. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Astros have agreed to sign reliever Josh Hader to a five-year, $95 million contract. Hader's new deal is the largest present-day value contract for a relief pitcher in baseball history.
After months of sitting on their hands, the Astros' front office finally stepped up and made a deal to improve their bullpen. Houston's relief corps was heavily-depleted by free agency, but this latest addition will give the Astros the best combination in baseball for the eighth and ninth innings.
Some fans may be questioning how Hader's new deal, which is technically worth less than Edwin's Diaz's five-year, $102 million contract, makes the Astros' newest pitcher the top-paid reliever in the game. Jon Heyman of the New York Post correctly points out that Diaz's deal is actually worth $94 million with deferrals.
Astros grant Josh Hader his wish with record-setting reliever contract
Was it the latest injury news this past week that caused the Houston brass to increase their pursuit of one of the top relievers in the game? Perhaps. Kendall Graveman underwent shoulder surgery this offseason and will miss the entire 2024 season.
Couple that news with the fact that the Astros have been unwilling or unable to re-sign one of Hector Neris, Phil Maton, or Ryne Stanek, and you can see why adding Hader was such an important signing for the front office.
It's assumed that Josh Hader will be the Houston Astros closer for the 2024 season and beyond. That likely pushes Ryan Pressly into a setup role. But seeing as how Hader is left-handed, there are times when new Astros manager Joe Espada may decide to go with the veteran right-hander. Pressley's contract is up after this season with a mutual-option for 2025.
The Astros finally made a significant move this offseason, but now is not the time to be patient. Houston needs at least one more good reliever or a couple middle-of-the-road arms who can gobble up some innings next season. Don't stop, Dana Brown. Go get more pitching.