From one rival to another, Josh Hader has turned "making Dodgers fans miserable" into his chosen profession.
And while it may be comforting, at first, that Hader has chosen to jump out of the NL West -- and the National League entirely -- the Dodgers might just end up staring down the barrel of the intimidating closer's side-swinging left arm at the worst possible time.
The Dodgers flirted with Hader at the tail end of December after locking down Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but ultimately weren't interested at signing a relief contract that approached $100 million; Hader reportedly sought to top Edwin Diaz's $102 million record-setter. Rumor had it Andrew Friedman might be in if Hader's price dropped, but planned to target Teoscar Hernández and starting pitching help in the meantime.
In the end, Hader got what he wanted; his $95-million, five-year contract represents the largest present-day guarantee to a reliever ever (ironically enough, Diaz got deferrals before it was cool). The only problem is ... he received that deal with the Astros.
MLB Free Agency: Josh Hader to Houston, should Dodgers be worried?
This leaves the locked-and-loaded Astros with a bullpen back-end featuring Hader, the most intimidating closer in the game, Ryan Pressly, and Bryan Abreu. Pressly is the definition of postseason nails, while Abreu was nearly unscored upon in the second half of last season; he allowed a single earned run, posting an 0.31 ERA after the All-Star break.
Luckily, for all haters of Houstonians, Abreu was suspended last October for some beanball antics. Unluckily, MLB reversed course and allowed him to play in Game 7 of the ALCS anyway. Happily, the 'Stros lost anyway.
With Hader, things might go differently this time around, as the Astros attempt to blaze through the American League yet again on the strength of an overload of firearms. Even with Kendall Graveman on the shelf and Phil Maton/Hector Neris floating through free agency, Houston has more than enough to compete, and they just paid the best capper in the game. We understand why the Dodgers didn't, but they helped create a monster -- one they might have to vanquish themselves.