Astros name Josh Hader closer, Ryan Pressly setup man

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 2:57 PM

New Houston Astros manager Joe Espada announced Wednesday that newly acquired Josh Hader will be the team’s closer this season, bumping Ryan Pressly to a setup role.

Espada made the announcement on the first day of Houston’s spring training workouts.

The Astros last month signed Hader to the second-richest contract in MLB history for a closer, a five-year deal worth $95 million. Edwin Diaz of the New York Mets received a five-year, $102 million deal after the 2022 season.

Pressly, a two-time All-Star, earned 102 saves for the Astros the past four seasons, one of only six relievers to compile at least 100 saves since 2020.

Espada said he sat down with both players to talk over his decision.

“They’ve both been successful. I feel more comfortable giving Hader that opportunity since he’s shown his ability to do it,” Espada told reporters. “Same as Pressly. It’s just Pressly won’t pitch the ninth inning. … I don’t want to put words in Pressly’s mouth, but everything I got from him was that he’s on board.”

Hader turns 30 on April 7; Pressly is 35.

Hader recorded 33 saves and a 1.28 ERA in 61 relief appearances for the San Diego Padres last season. The left-hander is 20-21 with 165 saves and a 2.50 ERA in 349 career games (no starts) for the Milwaukee Brewers (2017-22) and Padres (2022-23).

He received the National League’s Trevor Hoffman Reliever of the Year award in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

Pressly has 108 career saves, all but one of those with the Astros, who acquired him from the Minnesota Twins in July 2018. He has 14 career saves in 14 chances in the postseason, including two to help the Astros win the 2022 World Series. He will make $14 million this season with a vesting option for 2025, which includes a $2 million buyout, according to Spotrac.

Hader said he and Pressly spoke after his signing was announced.

“The goal is to build that relationship and win ballgames,” he said. “A lot of things can get stirred up on the outside and paint a picture that’s not it. But for him and I, we’ve had a great relationship so far and [we] continue to build off that.”

–Field Level Media