Without question, the biggest move the Houston Astros made this offseason was signing star closer Josh Hader. Not only is he probably the best relief pitcher in all of baseball, but the move helped fill a gaping hole in Houston's roster that was left with the departures of Hector Neris, Phil Maton and Ryne Stanek in free agency as well as Kendall Graveman's injury.
The timeline of the Hader acquisition was pretty wild as all we heard all offseason was that the Astros couldn't spend because of their tight payroll. Then Graveman's surgery was announced and a couple of days later, Hader was an Astro.
Adding some intrigue to the proceedings was that one of Houston's cheif rivals, the Texas Rangers, also needed bullpen help this offseason and were also interested in signing Hader.
However, Hader's comments on "Foul Territory" recently seem to indicate that the Rangers were hamstrung by their TV revenue woes, which prevented them from signing him before the Astros snatched him up.
Rangers TV woes continue to gift the Astros with opportunities
This whole situation isn't new per se, as the impact of the Rangers' TV rights situation this offseason has been very apparent for some time now. Despite coming off a World Series win, the Rangers simply haven't been able to spend as freely because their TV revenue was slated to take a hit regardless of the outcome of Diamond's bankruptcy. All of the money the Rangers committed to their roster in previous offseasons certainly didn't help their cause this offseason, but losing millions in TV revenue appears to be the primary issue.
The short-term benefits for Houston are obvious. They landed Hader and the Rangers didn't, which is a big win. However, it also portends good things for the Astros going forward. Despite the fact that the Rangers will now have a TV deal in place for 2024, things are much less certain in the long-term for them, and that could keep them out of the market in free agency (with Jordan Montgomery) and in trades (at this year's Aug. deadline).
In short, the concerns that the Rangers were a sleeping giant that would awaken as soon as they got some TV money rolling in were overblown. Clearly Texas' long-term outlook is atop the front office's mind over there, which, if Dana Brown and Co. play their cards right, could be a window of opportunity all season long.