Josh Hader signing is preventing Astros from making late push for Blake Snell

Houston's choice to sign Josh Hader is having some unexpected consequences given how this weird offseason has unfolded.

Houston Astros Workout
Houston Astros Workout / Rich Storry/GettyImages
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For as much as we heard about the state of the Houston Astros' payroll constraints heading into the offseason, owner Jim Crane and general manager Dana Brown were prepared to make a splash if it was for the right player. It was certainly true that the Astros were already very close to what they had spent historically, but the powers that be were still ready to make a splash if the fit was too good to pass up.

Fans know what happened after that. The Astros' biggest need coming into the offseason was to overhaul their bullpen and they went out and handed Josh Hader a massive five-year deal for a reliever. Hader was the best bullpen arm on the market, so mission accomplished, right?

Well, maybe. The issue now is that the Astros blew their one shot on a reliever, albeit a great one, and Blake Snell is still sitting out there as a free agent and presumably more willing to take a short-term deal.

Would have Blake Snell been a better signing than Josh Hader for the Astros?

There's an argument that signing Hader was a mistake. For one, as good as Hader is, he's still just a reliever, and the outcomes of a lot of games are often determined well before he enters the game. If the Astros are losing in the ninth inning, having Hader sitting in your bullpen doesn't help you at all.

Second, relievers are an incredibly risky asset. Hader does not have any previous health red flags, but he is still a max effort power pitcher that makes 60-ish appearances a year. The laws of physics are not kind to pitchers' arms, and with how he throws, it's fair to wonder if that risk, combined with the opportunity cost of signing Hader and not pursuing Blake Snell when his market never really developed, was the smart choice.

Despite those concerns, Houston will probably be better off with Hader. The left-hander is a durable and elite closer at a position of need even with the financial risk, while the Astros have significantly more quality depth on the starting pitching side especially as guys get healthy. On top of that, this isn't a one-to-one comparison as Snell may be wanting $35-40+ million a year even on a short-term deal. With Snell's previous inconsistencies and walk issues, there's no guarantee whatsoever that Crane and Brown would have gone after him even if they didn't sign Hader.

Would Snell have been a nice addition to the Astros' roster? Sure, absolutely. The guy just won a Cy Young award. However, considering what Houston truly needed this offseason and the quality of player they got to fill that need, they likely made the right choice.

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