Just two days removed from Dana Brown saying that Kendall Graveman's season-ending surgery wasn't going to alter the Houston Astros' offseason plans, fans were still furious. The Astros' bullpen was already their biggest need coming into the offseason and instead of addressing, it appeared as though the front office was sitting on their hands and waiting for a cheap bullpen arm to fall into their laps right before spring training.
However, things escalated quickly on Thursday when reports that the Astros were pushing hard to try and sign the best bullpen arm on the market -- Josh Hader -- came out. That the Astros were even considering a bullpen arm that had been reportedly seeking the largest free agent deal for a reliever in history, let alone a pitcher that the Astros famously traded away in one of the worst Astros trades ever, was a massive development in what has been a decidedly boring offseason so far. In Houston, as well as everywhere else.
If the Astros close the deal with Hader, they'd be adding him to a bullpen that was in desperate need of a top flight arm. However, one Astros insider may have just insinuated that the team may not be done making big moves this offseason, even if they secure the lefty's services on a record-setting contract.
Could the Astros pursue Blake Snell after Josh Hader signing?
When Astros beat writer Chandler Rome re-upped his tweet from right after the trade deadline last year, it is very likely that he was just referencing Houston's past interest in Hader at the deadline without trying to imply anything more than that. Houston could certainly use another rotation arm, but their 2024 payroll situation already seemed to be inching towards its maximums once Hader was in the fold.
But, in Rome's Athletic article follow-up, he acknowledged last summer's pursuit of both Hader and Snell, ruling out possible other options like the since-departed-to-the-Royals Seth Lugo and Michael Wacha.
"After last season’s trade deadline, owner Jim Crane acknowledged the team pursued “both a starter and reliever” from the San Diego Padres, but the duo “never got on the board.” Though he did not name them, Crane presumably meant Hader and Blake Snell, neither of whom changed teams."- Chandler Rome, The Athletic
Things have certainly escalated quickly.
Pulling off signing the NL Cy Young winner Snell would be an amazing development for Houston, but could prove to be difficult. Not only is Snell predicted to get at least five years and $135 million or more, but he also has no shortage of suitors with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels all being recently connected to Snell's market to varying degrees.
Stay tuned, Astros fans. Things are only just now getting interesting.