As MLB’s offseason continues, here are three things worth keeping an eye on around the baseball world headed into the weekend:
1. Could a Hader signing be on the horizon?
Among the winter’s top free agents, relief ace Josh Hader’s market has been relatively quiet to this point in the offseason. Aside from stray connections to the Orioles and Yankees much earlier in the winter, ties between Hader and specific teams this winter have mostly stayed speculative. That changed yesterday afternoon, however, as reporting indicated that the Astros were making a “strong push” to bring Hader back to Houston, where he spent parts of three seasons as a prospect.
While the Astros have been among the teams most strongly connected to the bullpen market this winter, it would be something of a surprise to see a team that has openly acknowledged its payroll limitations this winter land the market’s top closer. After all, Hader has been rumored to be seeking a deal that would top the $102MM guarantee Edwin Diaz received from the Mets last offseason Hader would be a difference-maker for an Astros club that could lose Justin Verlander, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman in free agency next winter. While the lefty posted a career-high walk rate in 2023 and struck out less than 37% of batters faced for the first time since his rookie season, he nonetheless posted a sterling 1.28 ERA and 2.69 FIP across 61 appearances this season while picking up 33 saves.
2. Cardinals roster move in the works?
The Cardinals allowed right-hander James Naile to depart the organization for an opportunity overseas last night, opening up a spot on their 40-man roster. That roster spot could be filled rather quickly, as MLB.com’s John Denton indicates that a roster move could come as soon as today. While Denton doesn’t discuss specifics of what that roster move could entail, he suggests that it will “likely” be the addition of a relief pitcher.
That’s hardly a surprise, as the Cards have been heavily connected to the bullpen market throughout the offseason and president of baseball operations John Mozeliak was candid earlier this offseason about the club’s desire to add at least two players to its late-inning mix this winter. A deal with the Rays for Andrew Kittredge landed one of those arms, and it’s possible the impending roster move could be their second such addition. The club has been tied to the likes of Ryan Brasier and Phil Maton in free agency this winter, though plenty of relief arms remain on the market.
3. Could Duvall be nearing a decision?
According to a report from Jon Heyman of the New York Post yesterday, outfielder Adam Duvall’s market has seemingly come into focus in recent days with two finalists for the veteran’s services: the incumbent Red Sox, and the Angels. Either would be a sensible fit for the 35-year-old. The Red Sox benefited greatly from the presence of Duvall’s righty bat in their lefty-dominated lineup last season as he slashed .247/.303/.531 in 353 trips to the plate last year. If re-signed, he could serve as a righty complement to young outfielders like Jarren Duran and Wilyer Abreu while also potentially spelling youngster Triston Casas at first base. With the Angels, Duvall could serve as a platoon partner for unproven players like Mickey Moniak in the outfield and Nolan Schanuel at first base, while also deepening a position player mix that lost Gio Urshela, Randal Grichuk, Eduardo Escobar, and Mike Moustakas among others to free agency on top of franchise face Shohei Ohtani.