This list would be incomplete without the Milwaukee Brewers’ best relief pitcher. Actually, to call Josh Hader a ‘relief pitcher’ isn’t really fair. The only words that really describe what happens when he comes into a game are ‘Force of Nature’. He amassed a 2.7 WAR in only 81 1/3 innings of regular season baseball. He struck out 143, walked 30, and was tagged for nine homers.
Hader has another season of team control beyond 2019, and has three more years of arbitration after that. It could make sense for the Milwaukee Brewers to go year-to-year with Hader due to the natural volatility that’s inherent to relief pitching, but it’s also just as likely that he ends up costing the Brewers a ton in arbitration.
It makes sense to offer Hader an extension, but how big of a deal should the Brewers offer? Would a ‘Chris Sale’ deal of five years around $30 million be enough? Considering that Hader won’t crack $1 million in yearly salary until next year at the earliest, a five year extension in the neighborhood of $25-to-$30 million should get him to sign and avoid the costly and awkward arbitration process.
As a reliever, Hader is likely to dominate in ways that few can for years to come. In 99% of cases, it makes zero sense to sign a reliever to a long-term deal, but Hader is proving that he’s in the 1% of special relief pitchers that deserve the investment from the team.