Astros Reliever Targets: S-Tier
These group is the absolute top tier of the options that the Astros should be considering heading into the 2024 season. They represent a high level of production-to-cost as well as real upside. There is just no way for Houston to sign all of these guys without having to make concessions elsewhere on their payroll, but these guys should be at the top of their wish list.
Starting with a familiar face, Hector Neris is technically still an Astro, but there is basically no chance that he is going to exercise his $8.5 million player option for 2024 given that he just put up a 2.5 rWAR season in 2023 with a 1.71 ERA. There is some cause for concern with some of his peripherals including his walk rate (4.1 BB/9) and FIP (3.83) from this season, but he has been a consistently good reliever for a while and Houston should do what they can to bring him back.
While the Rangers acquiring Jordan Montgomery at the trade deadline got the bulk of the attention, Chris Stratton was also in that deal and he provided the Rangers with some much needed stability in their bullpen with a 3.41 ERA in 22 appearances with Texas. While he may not be a guy you want in the highest leverage situations, his fastball and offspeed stuff both grade out very well and his swing and miss stuff could tick up as Houston has a history of getting more out of their arms. That he shouldn't break the bank is bonus points in his favor as well.
The biggest name on the reliever market is, without question, Josh Hader. Hader has been one of the absolute best closers in all of baseball for years now other than an anomalous 2022 season and is coming off a season with the Padres where he posted a 1.28 ERA in 66 appearances and showing no signs of slowing down. He will not be cheap whatsoever, but adding Hader would immediately turn the bullpen into a strength of the Astros' roster. It would also be fun for his career to come full circle.