Big contracts for relief pitchers are reserved for the best of the best and the Houston Astros are betting big on Josh Hader by signing him to a $95 million contract on Friday.
According to the ESPN network, the five-year contract is the second-largest ever given to a major baseball player. In November 2022, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen opened his wallet wide to keep Edwin Diaz in the Big Apple, ultimately offering him $102 million over five years.
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Hader was one of the most sought-after free agents on the market after his outstanding 2023 season with the San Diego Padres. The 29-year-old American maintained a 1.28 average allowed in 56 and a third innings while making 33 saves. He was invited to the All-Star Game for the fifth time in his career.
The Astros decided to make Hader their playoff expert, which could impact the deployment of Ryan Pressly. He has led the team in saves every year since 2020. Unless there is a change, he will have to settle for another replacement role.
It can sometimes be risky to give that much money to a pitcher who isn't a starter. In 2022, Hader was disappointing with a 7.31 ERA, but his previous outings with the Milwaukee Brewers were all impressive.
Diaz, on the other hand, missed the entire 2023 season due to a knee injury.