Oakland Athletics' rival signs star closer to massive contract

Star closer Josh Hader agrees to a $95 million contract with the Houston Astros
San Diego Padres v Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres v Oakland Athletics / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, the Houston Astros are in agreement with star closer Josh Hader on a five-year, $95 million contract.

There's some back and forth about whether Hader's contract is the largest ever for a reliever. Edwin Diaz signed a deal with the Mets for a total of $102.5 million, though that contract contains deferrals that lower the present value of the deal. There are no deferrals in Hader's contract.

Hader is coming off a strong year with the Padres. He posted a 1.28 ERA while striking out nearly 37% of batters and notching 33 saves. He has an elite fastball that he throws over 96 mph, his strikeout rate is in the 99th percentile league-wide, and he induces as much weak contact as anyone else out there.

There's a contingent of baseball fans that abides by the rule that no relievers are worth signing to large, multi-year deals. For the most part, I would agree with that, although I think there are certain instances where you've got to bend that rule a bit.

Hader is a proven pitcher and he's at the top of the list of guys you expect elite innings from out of the bullpen. It's a lot cheaper to develop pitchers than it is to acquire them in free agency, but when you have a talent like Hader, it's probably worth the risk.

It's an interesting move for the Astros, who needed a left-handed reliever but also already had a solid closer in Ryan Pressly and a strong backup option in Bryan Abreu.

Pressly finished the year with a 3.58 ERA and 31 saves for the AL West division winners. Abreu posted his second consecutive year with an ERA under 2.00 and a strikeout rate over 34%. Outside of those two, the Astros do have some interesting arms in the bullpen but nobody you'd want to stake your season on.

Hader should help alleviate some of that worry about failure in the postseason. The Astros will come back down to earth at some point, but they're expected to be one of the top teams in the majors again in 2024. They've made the ALCS in seven straight seasons. I can't wait for that to change, but the addition of Hader likely makes the Astros a bit better in 2024.

Whether he lives up to the contract in the long-term remains to be seen. Most long-term deals don't, especially reliever deals. But for next season alone, the Athletics will likely have a bit less fun when playing the Astros.