Josh Hader - 6-year deal for $150 million dollars
There is no question that Hader is the best relief pitcher on the free-agent market right now. For most of his career, Hader has been automatic and lockdown in the 9th inning of games. He is a three-time winner of the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year and a 5-time All-Star, every team would love to have him.
After an outstanding run with the Brewers, the baseball world was stunned to see Hader get traded from a first-place team to the Padres. He did not pitch well when he came to San Diego, as he had an ERA over 7 in the regular season, but in the postseason he made up for that where he was basically unhittable. In 5.1 innings he only allowed one hit, one walk, and he struck out 10, just showing how dominant he can really be.
That great postseason carried over into 2023 where he put up another stellar season. Across 61 games he had a 1.28 ERA (and a 321 ERA+), 33 saves, and 85 K's in 56.1 innings pitched. The Cardinals are in need of some more swing-and-miss arms, and there is nobody better than Hader, in his career he has a 15.0 K/9 rate, which is the best in MLB history for an individual career.
So what kind of money is Hader going to get? According to Jim Bowden with CBS Sports, Hader is looking for a contract " north of Edwin Diaz ". Last off-season Diaz re-signed with the Mets for 5 years and 102 million dollars, which is an average salary of $20.4 million a year. So I went ahead and put down a flat number of $25 million average salary for 6 years. It was also reported by Bowden that no team has hit the amount that Hader is looking for just yet.
I wouldn't expect the Cardinals to go all in for Hader right now, but we do know that they can offer what Hader wants, the only question is, will they? But at the end of the day, if the Cardinals want to show that they are serious about competing for a World Series in 2024, signing Hader would convince the fan base that they're all in.