Josh Hader's half-season with the San Diego Padres in 2022 was disastrous. The left-hander, after being traded from the Milwaukee Brewers, made 19 appearances out of the Padres bullpen and posted a 7.31 ERA. This past season, however, Hader recorded 33 saves and posted a 1.28 ERA. Hader became a free agent this offseason, and eventually signed with the Houston Astros.
Hader's time in San Diego was marred by what can only be described as an innings restriction. Whether self-imposed or demanded from the Padres front office, former manager Bob Melvin left a group of reporters outside his clubhouse office dumbfounded as they pondered to themselves, "Why didn't Josh Hader come in before the ninth inning?"
It's a fair question. While it was always understood that Hader was the Frairs' closer, was it going to hurt his ego to appear in the eighth inning if that's when the manager needed him? As it turns out, Hader had, at least from his perspective, a good reason to only pitch in the ninth inning. During an appearance on "Foul Territory", Hader didn't hold back when speaking about the arbitration process and how it shaped his thinking. He also had some choice words for Padres fans.
Josh Hader calls out Padres fans, arbitration in spicy explanation for innings limit
Hader has been very clear when it comes to his take on the arbitration process -- he doesn't like it. Before going to arbitration with the Brewers in 2020, Hader made several multi-inning appearances out of the bullpen. But something was said during that arbitration hearing that changed his perspective.
During the interview, Hader said, "The (arbitration) system told me that the way that, not just me, but any reliever is valued is based off saves. And for me, at the time, I was going multiple innings." Hader then added, "I was told to my face that (throwing multiple innings) is not worth anything. You got to get saves."
That's all Hader needed to hear. He then came to the realization that if the team, which was the Brewers at the time, wasn't going to invest in him, then he wasn't going to risk an injury that could possibly prevent him from securing a long-term deal.
Josh Hader's frustration with the arbitration system may have cost the Padres a playoff berth
This is all very hypothetical, but the Padres barely missed out on the MLB postseason last year. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who would represent the National League in the World Series, finished just two games ahead of the Padres in 2023. If Josh Hader had been "available" outside of just the ninth inning, could the Friars had made the playoffs?
Hader somewhat addressed that situation during the interview, saying, "At the end of the day, to the Padres fans, you know I gave it my all, but it sucks that the business had to kind of put that sour taste in their mouths."
This is not to outright call Hader a liar, but it's painfully obvious to everyone watching and listening that you most certainly did not give it your all. If that were that the case, there wouldn't be a zero in the column next to the stat that reads: multiple inning appearances.
Baseball is a business. Fans may not like that, but they understand it. If the Padres were 10 games out with eight games left to play, nobody would say a word. But when the Padres were making that late-season push only to have Hader cite business-related reasons for his lack of participation is incredibly disingenuous.
Fans pay to watch games and players are paid to play them. It's that simple. And when your number is called, whether it's the fourth inning or the ninth inning, that's your time to perform. The Friar faithful won't accept Hader's objection to the arbitration process as a valid reason for spending eight innings sitting in the dugout. Houston, he's your problem now.