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The reigning World Series champions or a top contender in the National League may add one of the best relief pitchers in the league this offseason.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies are on “top of the list” when it comes to free agent Josh Hader:
While Shohei Ohtani is the biggest prize of the offseason, Hader is not far behind him. In today’s game where managers rely so much on their bullpens for key innings in the postseason, having a lockdown closer significantly elevates a team’s World Series chances.
Hader has largely been just that throughout his career, although there were some question marks heading into the 2023 campaign after he posted a 5.22 ERA in 2022 for the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. It was by far the worst showing of his entire time at the MLB level, which dates back to 2017.
However, he answered all those questions in resounding fashion in 2023.
The southpaw finished the year with a 1.28 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 33 saves and 85 strikeouts in 56.1 innings for the Padres. He was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for a team that had World Series aspirations and ended up missing the playoffs entirely.
Hader was an All-Star for the fifth time in his career and added to a resume that saw him lead the league in saves in 2020 and win the NL Hoffman Reliever Award three different times.
That Philadelphia would be interested in Hader comes as no surprise considering closer Craig Kimbrel was something of an adventure whenever he entered during the playoffs. He posted a 6.00 ERA in the postseason, which was a disappointment after he was fairly effective in the regular season with a 3.26 ERA and 23 saves.
As for the Rangers, adding Hader would only make them more dangerous after winning the World Series. They will surely want to capitalize on this championship window with a loaded roster, and adding elite talent is the best way to do just that.
They just might have to outbid the Phillies to do so with Hader.