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#pounditMonday, May 20, 2024

Notable AL team favored to sign Josh Hader in free agency

Josh Hader smiling.

Aug 2, 2022; San Diego, California, USA; San Diego Padres relief pitcher Josh Hader (71) walks off the field after defeating the Colorado Rockies at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Hader will be a free agent this offseason for the first time in his career. If he decides to leave the San Diego Padres, one team is being mentioned as a favorite to sign him.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported in a notes column published on Sunday that nearly every MLB executive with whom he spoke predicted that the Texas Rangers would sign Hader.

The Rangers are coming off winning the World Series for the first time in franchise history. Their offense was awesome all season and that continued in the playoffs. They also got some great starting pitching from guys like Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi in the postseason. But if there was one weakness on the team, it was the bullpen, which the team tried to address by trading for Aroldis Chapman ahead of the trade deadline.

Hader could really fortify the Rangers’ bullpen.

Though he pitched poorly after being acquired by the Padres at the trade deadline in 2022, Hader resumed his dominance in 2023. He had 33 saves and a 1.28 ERA over 56.1 innings in 2023, though he did walk 30 batters.

The Rangers have Jose Leclerc under contract for 2024, but Chapman and Will Smith are set to be free agents. They could use some help in the bullpen, which is why Hader would make sense for them as a left-handed counterpart to Leclerc.

The Padres extended Hader a qualifying offer, but he wouldn’t accept that unless he felt he couldn’t sign a much larger deal in free agency.

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