MASSIVE SIGNING: Elite Closer Josh Hader Finds New Home

He was looking for a record-breaking contract for a reliever, and in the end, he did. Sort of. Free agent closer Josh Hader has landed a new 5-year, $95 million deal with the Houston Astros.

Because it contains no deferrals, unlike the $102 million deal that Edwin Diaz signed with the New York Mets last year, of which $26.5 million was deferred, Hader's windfall is considered "the largest present-day value contract for a relief pitcher in baseball history." 

Arguably one of the best closers in baseball of the last half-decade, Hader comes to the Astros off a 33-save season with the San Diego Padres, with an insane 1.28 ERA. 

The addition of Hader is crucial for the Astros bullpen, after the loss of key setup man Kendall Graveman for the 2024 season following shoulder surgery.

But where this leaves Houston's longtime closer, Ryan Pressly, remains to be seen. The veteran Pressly has racked up 90 saves over the last three years, including a perfect run of 14-for-14 in save opportunities in the playoffs for the Astros with a 2.22 ERA. Despite all that, he now is likely to be relegated to 8th-inning setup duties with Hader on board. 

Hader, ironically, began his career in the Astros' minor league system. In his 7 year big league career, he's recorded 165 saves, and his 153 saves since the start of 2019 are best in all of baseball. 

He joins a bullpen that not only includes Pressly, but also two other high-leverage arms in  Bryan Abreu and Rafael Montero.

 Photo: Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports