Josh Hader, possibly the highest-profile free agent still available on the MLB market, is reportedly seeking more money than clubs think he’s worth and holding up the offseason as a result.
“Hader continues to search for a deal of his liking, though with each passing day, it appears his chances of surpassing the five-year, $102 million contract Edwin Díaz signed with the Mets last year become less likely,” according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
Diaz is currently the record holder for the highest-paid reliever in MLB history and Feinsand reported that Hader is focused on earning that title for himself this offseason. On paper, Hader has reason to believe he can make history, though it’s a close call.
In seven major league seasons, Hader has racked up 165 saves and 648 strikeouts. He has a career 2.50 ERA but that figure was a dominant 1.28 last season after a workhorse’s 56.1 innings.
Meanwhile, Díaz — who is the same age as Hader with as many seasons under his belt — sports a career 2.93 ERA with a total of 205 saves and 657 strikeouts. Before signing his record-setting deal, Díaz was coming off of a 1.31 ERA season, but then he tore his patellar tendon while celebrating a win with Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic team and missed all of last season.
Hader’s agent would also point out that the value of MLB contracts is going up every year and the same production on paper could warrant more money in 2024 than it did in 2022.
Hader might be blocking other MLB offseason moves
As Harder holds out for a historic contract, he might be jamming up the rest of the free-agent market.
“I think the Hader domino needs to fall first,” an anonymous National League executive told Feinsand. “I can’t see any other reason the market is slow for them. Sometimes these guys at the top can hold up everything.”
With growing hesitancy from big league clubs to invest in superstar relievers and a plethora of cheaper options still available — including Hector Neris, Robert Stephenson and Aroldis Chapman — fans might have to wait a while longer before seeing the logjam clear.
Jon Heyman has reported that “nothing is imminent” on a new deal for Hader.