Josh Hader Record-Setting Contract Hopes Slow MLB Offseason Progress

MLB's Offseason Hangs in Balance Amid Hader's Contract Saga.

by Nouman Rasool
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Josh Hader Record-Setting Contract Hopes Slow MLB Offseason Progress
© Quinn Harris/Getty Images

In the midst of a bustling Major League Baseball (MLB) offseason, all eyes are on Josh Hader, the high-profile free agent whose contract demands are causing a stir among clubs and potentially slowing down the market. Hader, a standout in the league, is reportedly seeking a deal that would eclipse the record-setting contract of Edwin Díaz, the current highest-paid reliever in MLB history.

This ambitious pursuit is generating widespread attention and speculation within the baseball community. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that as the offseason progresses, Hader's chances of surpassing Díaz's five-year, $102 million contract with the New York Mets seem increasingly remote.

Despite this, Hader’s aspirations are not unfounded, given his impressive career statistics. In his seven seasons in the major leagues, Hader has accumulated an impressive 165 saves and 648 strikeouts, boasting a career ERA of 2.50, which was a remarkable 1.28 last season after logging 56.1 innings.

The comparison with Díaz, who shares a similar age and experience level, is inevitable. Díaz, before signing his record deal, had a career ERA of 2.93 with 205 saves and 657 strikeouts. However, his momentum was halted due to a patellar tendon injury sustained last season.

This juxtaposition of their careers adds another layer to Hader's contract saga.

Inflating Market Values

Furthermore, the evolving financial landscape of MLB contracts suggests that the same level of performance could be worth more in 2024 than in previous years, adding weight to Hader's argument for a higher salary.

As Hader holds out for what could be a historic deal, his situation has broader implications for the MLB offseason. An anonymous National League executive suggested to Feinsand that Hader's decision is a key factor in the current market slowdown, stating, "I think the Hader domino needs to fall first." This standstill impacts other free agents and potential trades, as teams are seemingly hesitant to make moves until Hader's situation is resolved.

In the meantime, several viable, more affordable relievers remain available, including Hector Neris, Robert Stephenson, and Aroldis Chapman. This abundance of options, coupled with the reluctance of clubs to invest heavily in superstar relievers, means fans may have to wait longer to see any significant movement in the free-agent market.

As the MLB community awaits a resolution, Jon Heyman has noted that a deal for Hader is not imminent, leaving the offseason landscape in a state of anticipation and uncertainty. Hader's contract pursuit is not just a personal milestone but a pivotal moment that could reshape the market dynamics of the league.

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