Finally! While a deal isn't done, at least it appears as though the Houston Astros have awaken from their offseason slumber and are finally getting serious about upgrading the team's bullpen.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) is reporting that the Astros are making a push for Josh Hader. Rosenthal mentions that the Astros had initially shown interest in Hader at last year's trade deadline. The All-Star closer spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, but played the last one and-a-half seasons with the San Diego Padres.
Needless to say that this would be a tremendous upgrade for an Astros bullpen that has seen free agent departures and injuries already this offseason. Phil Maton, Hector Neris, and Ryne Stanek are all unsigned, but little traction toward a reunion has been made thus far. Just this past week, the team revealed that Kendall Graveman would miss the entire 2024 season following shoulder surgery.
Astros Rumors: Houston intensifying pursuit of Josh Hader
Josh Hader is about as dominant of a pitcher as you're going to find. The left-hander made 61 appearances for the Padres in 2023 and posted a 1.28 ERA. The hard-throwing southpaw recorded 85 punch outs in just over 56 innings of work. A 36.8-percent strikeout-rate will look nice in any bullpen.
Hader is said to be seeking a deal worth over $100 million. Edwin Diaz is currently the highest-paid closer in the game after signing a five-year, $102 million contract with the New York Mets. Diaz missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury during the World Baseball Classic.
While nothing appears imminent at the moment, the simple fact that Houston is pursuing the most coveted free agent reliever on the market has to make the Astros' fanbase very happy. Houston's offseason has been rather boring to this point, but adding Hader would certainly bring some excitement back to H-Town ahead of the 2024 season.