SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 19: Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres celebrates defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 8-5 in game two of the National League Championship Series at PETCO Park on October 19, 2022 in San Diego, California.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Josh Hader Sweepstakes Down To These 3 MLB Teams

Josh Hader's next team could be decided in the near future, with three teams in the hunt for the star reliever.

The top of MLB's free-agent market has been accounted for now that Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are no longer available. There are still plenty of elite ballplayers who need a home for 2024 and beyond, though. One of those is five-time All-Star closer Josh Hader.

He's the best reliever available on the open market, and the left-hander is looking to break some records with his next contract. Edwin Diaz signed a five-year, $102 million with the New York Mets last winter. It's currently the richest contract for a reliever ever. According to MLB insider Jim Duquette, Hader's camp is shooting beyond those numbers for the southpaw.

While Duquette said no organizations have gotten to that level yet in their bidding, three clubs are actively chasing the reliever. Those squads include the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The former MLB executive also mentioned that each of these clubs prefers to acquire a starting pitcher over a closer. But if a team like the Yankees can't supplement the rotation appropriately, general manager Brian Cashman could pivot to Hader.

Hader has been one of the league's better relievers since making his debut as a 23-year-old in 2017. He entered 2023 with a unique task at hand, though — to rebuild his value a little bit. Hader split 2022 between the Milwaukee Brewers and San Diego Padres. The lefty went through uncharacteristic struggles that led to career-worst marks in ERA (5.22) and WHIP (1.280) in 50 innings pitched.

As one can imagine, Hader did an excellent job in rebuilding that value during his final season before hitting free agency. During his age-29 campaign, he posted a 1.28 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 85 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. Finding a club willing to shell out that much money for a closer might be tough, but we've already seen enough crazy things happen this winter. Anything is possible — especially if the Dodgers are involved.

MORE: Shohei Ohtani Will Earn Less Than Two Retired MLB All-Stars in 2024