It's free agent season, which means we're stuck with nothing but rumors and educated guesses until free agents begin choosing their final destinations and putting pen to paper. One of the most talked about free agents among the relievers is, of course, Josh Hader, formerly of the San Diego Padres.
With the Philadelphia Phillies undoubtedly in the market for bullpen help this offseason, it was inevitable that Hader's name would come up in connection to the City of Brotherly Love.
One of the most prolific MLB insiders to grace us with his seemingly never-ending presence this time of year is at it again. Jon Morosi joined MLB Network's Hot Stove to discuss the teams he thinks are the top candidates to land Hader and pointed to the Phillies as one of those clubs.
Phillies and Rangers both looking to shore up shaky bullpens
Morosi lumps the World Series-winning Texas Rangers and the Phillies into the same category despite one team flopping in the National League Championship Series and one having a freshly minted title to lean on. Both teams had questionable bullpen performances, although considering the final results, the Phillies' relief corps collapse is a little more glaring.
"I think one thing is really interesting that we saw even among the teams that played deep into October, and indeed even the one that won it all in the Texas Rangers, they had some bullpen questions," the MLB Network insider said. "So I'm going to go straight to those teams that are either trying to repeat as World Series champions, like the Rangers, or get there like the Phillies."
We all know what happened in the NLCS, when the bullpen, and specifically Craig Kimbrel, coughed up a pair of winnable games in Arizona. Those sub-par performances all but cemented Kimbrel's departure from Philadelphia in free agency and the team's renewed search for reliable bullpen arms.
"When you consider the struggles of Craig Kimbrel and the overall lack of reliable bullpen innings they had late in those games in the NLCS," Morosi said. "I look at both the Rangers and Phillies as strong candidates to sign Josh Hader."
For his part, Hader had another fantastic season despite playing for the underachieving Padres. He made his fifth All-Star Game and finished the year with 33 saves, a 1.28 ERA, and 85 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings.
While the 29-year-old right-hander is easily the best relief pitcher on the free agent market, it remains to be seen if the Phillies are interested in signing an actual "closer" or are comfortable working with a fluid bullpen.