Edwin Diaz deal could complicate Josh Hader extension talks

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 03: Josh Hader #71 of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The San Diego Padres took another big swing to fix a bad bullpen, sending Taylor Rogers to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for one of the game’s toughest at-bats in explosive left-hander Josh Hader. After a horrible start, Hader played a role in San Diego’s NLCS run (despite how Bob Melvin used him against Philadelphia).

Hader is under contract for 2023, but he promises to be one of the biggest free agents on the market after that season. The Padres will try everything to retain him, but there are some competitors that will give San Diego everything they can handle in a proverbial bidding war.

While relief pitchers have typically been undervalued in the open market due to their short lifespans and propensity to be shifted in and out of the closer role, Edwin Diaz broke that mold by signing a fairly substantial contract. Hader and his agent likely took note of that deal.

Diaz signed a five-year, $102 million deal with the Mets that includes an opt-out, sixth-year option, and full no-trade clause. Hader, who has four All-Star teams and three Hoffman Reliever of the Year Awards to his name, is likely going to push for a nine-figure deal San Diego might not be able to afford.

Will the San Diego Padres extend Josh Hader?

Anyone looking at Hader’s ERA to justify not paying him is not arguing in good faith. Hader didn’t give up an earned run until June 7 and was unhittable in September. In the postseason, the former Brewers closer completely shut down the Dodgers in San Diego’s NLDS upset.

Still just 28 years old and in possession of a wipeout slider that can still be an effective pitch later in his career, Hader earning a Diaz-like deal is realistic. A bad two-month stretch should not cloud the judgment of this front office. In a league with fewer lockdown pure closers than ever before, Hader is one of the best.

With Juan Soto expected to break the bank to an eye-watering degree and names like Manny Machado already taking up a ton of real estate on San Diego’s payroll, ownership likely won’t keep everyone who demands a nine-figure contract. Keeping Hader beyond this year got even harder.

The Padres were already being pressured to win next season, but the Diaz deal making it more difficult to keep Hader has only amplified that hype. Unless the Padres decide to match or beat the Diaz offer, this could end up being Hader’s final season in San Diego.