Rangers See All-Star Pitcher as 'Fallback Plan' in Free Agency

As much as Texas Rangers fans would love to see Josh Hader added to the bullpen, don't count on signing him to be one of management's top priorities.

The Rangers see Josh Hader as a potential fallback plan, per MLB insider Mark Feinsand.
The Rangers see Josh Hader as a potential fallback plan, per MLB insider Mark Feinsand. / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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As the MLB offseason continues and several big-name free agents remain on the open market, Texas Rangers fans wonder if the team is any closer to signing Josh Hader. The Rangers — along with the LA Dodgers and New York Yankees — were reported as frontrunners for the All-Star closer's services last month, but a deal has yet to materialize.

While there's still no indication of where or when Hader will sign a contract, there is an update regarding Texas' interest in the free agent. On Tuesday, MLB insider Mark Feinsand reported that the Rangers view the 29-year-old as a "fallback plan if they’re unable to land an impact starter."

Rangers News: Signing Josh Hader Not a Priority

According to Feinsand's sources, the Rangers are still pursuing free-agent aces Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery to help beef up the rotation. Considering how neither of the pair appears to be in a rush to get a deal finalized, Hader "may have to wait a little while" before finding his new home.

It'll be interesting to see if the Rangers land either of those starting arms or if they're forced to turn their attention to Hader. It's worth noting that USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that Montgomery's "preference" is to remain with Texas after helping the franchise win the 2023 World Series this past fall after being acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline.

But even with the starting rotation being the priority, the Rangers do need some bullpen help, too. After all, Texas had one of the worst relief groups in the MLB last season, ranking 24th in ERA, 27th in saves, 27th in home runs allowed, and 29th in strikeouts.

It isn't difficult to see how Hader's presence could help remedy the situation. The five-time All-Star closer made 61 appearances with the San Diego Padres last season, pitching to a 1.28 ERA and 33 saves as he averaged 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

Having said that, the Rangers' situation with Diamond Sports Group — the company that broadcasts the team's games — has thrown a wrench into any free agency plans. It was reported in November that Diamond plans to file for bankruptcy, which puts Texas' $111 million contract for 2024 in jeopardy.

According to Spotrac, the Rangers had an active payroll north of $252 million in 2023 and already sit at $181.7 million ahead of the next campaign with several holes to fill. If they can't get that broadcast money, it's going to be tougher to repeat as World Series Champions.

Time will tell how potentially signing Hader, Montgomery or any other prominent free agent would move the needle when it comes to consecutive championship runs. FanDuel Sportsbook currently has the Rangers owning the fifth-best odds to win the 2024 World Series just over two months before the new season begins.

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