Yankees were on the cusp of signing superstar closer in free agency

mlb: colorado rockies at san diego padres, yankees, josh hader
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The New York Yankees’ successes this offseason trumped their failed signings. Despite getting the reinforcements they needed at several positions, one top-shelf superstar could have made the Yankees’ bullpen unstoppable.

Star Houston Astros reliever Josh Harder strongly considered the Yankees when making his choice in free agency before ultimately going in another direction, which he spoke of on Foul Territory. Hader filled the baseball world in on the makings of his decision, saying in part:

“It was a few good teams that were competitive and I think ultimately we were looking for teams that were very competitive and we wanted to go win a World Series. I’ll give you a few. I’d say the (Los Angeles Dodgers) were one of them. They were in the room but never fully stepped in. And I’d say the Yankees were talking but it just never came through,” Hader exclaimed.

Why losing out on Hader to the Astros hurts for the Yankees

The Yankees were in the mix for a myriad of elite pitchers, both for their starting rotation and their relief core. While missing out on Hader hurts, him joining their bitter rivals in the Astros, makes the sting sharper.

The Yankees have failed to overcome the Astros in three playoff series since 2017. The Jose Altuve-led ball club has had their number, and despite them not making it three World Series crowns in the last seven years this past season, remain the Yankees’ chiefest roadblock toward a title in the American League.

Will Josh Hader prevent the Yankees from finally overcoming the Astros should they meet again in the 2024 MLB playoffs?

Hader will now close for an Astros team that went from being a top 10 team in saves in five of six seasons between 2017 and 2022 to the No. 18 ranked squad in 2023 with 42 saves.

The Yankees’ new imposing offense, headlined by two all-world sluggers in Aaron Judge and Juan Soto, will have to beware of Hader’s dominance in the clutch, and should they square off in the playoffs again in 2024, prepare for a dominant arm in Hader who finished with the eighth-mist saves (33) last season and sported the lowest ERA (1.28) among all closers in the top 10.