All-Star Closer Josh Hader Inks Record-Breaking $95M Deal With Houston Astros

Photo: Instagram/Josh Hader

The Houston Astros have secured the services of baseball's top reliever, Josh Hader, in a major offseason move.

The left-handed closer agreed to a historic five-year, $95 million deal, marking the largest contract for a relief pitcher in baseball history, with no financial deferrals.

Hader, who spent the last two seasons with the San Diego Padres, brings an impressive track record, boasting the highest fWAR among MLB relievers since his debut with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017.

Photo: Instagram/Josh Hader

Ranked ninth on Yahoo Sports' list of this winter's top 25 free agents, Hader's signing significantly strengthens the Astros' bullpen.

Despite concerns surrounding his 2022 performance with a 5.22 ERA, Hader made a spectacular comeback in 2023 with the Padres, posting a remarkable 1.28 ERA over 56 1/3 innings. The 29-year-old southpaw, a five-time All-Star and three-time NL Reliever of the Year, remains a dominant force on the mound.

However, questions loom over Hader's average fastball velocity decline in 2023, dropping from 97.4 mph to 96.1 mph. Despite this, Hader's fastball remained effective, holding hitters to a .190 average. Analysts debate whether the velocity dip was a strategic move or a cause for concern for the Astros.

While committing significant resources to a closer is considered risky, Hader's consistent dominance and rebound in 2023 make him a relatively safe bet for the Astros. The 2023 season marked Hader's sixth All-Star appearance, showcasing his resilience and commitment to excellence. 

As the Astros secure the best reliever in the past seven seasons, baseball fans await the 2024 season to see if Hader can maintain his elite status and contribute to the Astros' bullpen success. (Source: Yahoo Sports)

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