The Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies Eyeing Free Agent Josh Hader
By Scott Polacek, Featured Columnist IV – November 14, 2023
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.
According to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies are at the forefront of teams interested in signing free agent Josh Hader:
“@jonmorosi mentions the Rangers and Phillies as strong candidates to sign Josh Hader in free agency. #MLBNHotStove”
While Shohei Ohtani is the biggest prize of the offseason, Hader is not far behind him. In today’s game where managers rely heavily on their bullpens for key innings in the postseason, having a lockdown closer significantly elevates a team’s World Series chances.
Hader has consistently proven himself as one of the best closers in the league throughout his career. However, there were some concerns heading into the 2023 season after he posted a 5.22 ERA in 2022 for the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres, marking the worst performance of his MLB tenure dating back to 2017.
Fortunately, Hader silenced all doubts in 2023.
The left-handed pitcher finished the year with an impressive 1.28 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 33 saves, and 85 strikeouts in 56.1 innings for the Padres. He emerged as a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for a team that had high hopes of making the playoffs.
Hader’s exceptional performance earned him his fifth All-Star selection and further solidified his resume, which already includes leading the league in saves in 2020 and winning the NL Hoffman Reliever Award three times.
It comes as no surprise that the Philadelphia Phillies are interested in Hader, especially considering the struggles of their closer Craig Kimbrel during the playoffs. Kimbrel posted a disappointing 6.00 ERA in the postseason after a relatively effective regular season with a 3.26 ERA and 23 saves.
Meanwhile, the Texas Rangers, fresh off their World Series victory, are looking to bolster their roster and capitalize on their championship window. Adding Hader to their already loaded roster would undoubtedly make them even more formidable.
However, the Rangers may have to outbid the Phillies to secure Hader’s services.
As the offseason progresses, it will be intriguing to see which team ultimately lands the highly sought-after reliever. Both the Rangers and Phillies recognize the value Hader brings to a team’s World Series aspirations, and the competition for his signature is expected to be fierce.