Astros brass discuss adding Josh Hader

HOUSTON – Once the Astros focused on signing free agent closer Josh Hader, general manager Dana Brown and manager Joe Espada made sure to call Ryan Pressley. That was out of respect for Houston's incumbent, who may have to take on a new role with the addition of a five-time All-Star in Hader.

Both Brown and Espada said Pressley was fully prepared to add Hader, whose 153 saves since 2019 are the most in the major leagues in that span. Hader's signing is waiting for the left fielder to pass a physical, but Brown and Espada talked about his acquisition at the team's annual FanFest on Saturday at Minute Maid Park and how it impacts Pressley.

“I think Presley has been great for this organization as a closer,” Brown said. “He was great in the postseason. I think it's very important to be professional and communicate with the players when you're making moves.”

“We're still in the market to get better,” Brown said.

Pressley, 35, has been the closer for the Astros since the 2020 season and is one of only four relievers to compile at least 100 saves in that stretch. An All-Star with Houston in 2019 and 2021, Pressley has made 90 saves over the past three seasons and is a perfect 14-for-14 on save chances in the postseason.

Pressley, who is in the final year of a two-year, $30 million contract (with an option for 2025), is one of the most popular figures in the Astros' clubhouse. He was on the mound when the Astros clinched the World Series in '22 and had 31 saves in '23. His 107 saves are the fourth-most in club history.

“I think Presley means a lot to this organization,” Brown said. “His leadership in the clubhouse, his leadership in the bullpen, the things he did for this organization — all the saves in the postseason and all the saves in the season. He was just a pillar, but I wanted to talk to him because it was the right thing to do. He was a professional.” “For real. I got off the phone and I'm excited. This guy is going to do whatever it takes to win.”

Presley attended FanFest, but a team spokesman said he did not want to do an interview. Despite this, Pressley's teammates were thrilled with the addition of Hader, who will combine with Pressley and Brian Abreu to form one of the best backfield combinations in baseball.

“We're very excited to be on his team and be his teammate and welcome him here,” third baseman Alex Bregman said. “We look forward to a great year.”

Espada said he prefers his companions to have specific roles, which means closer identification. He wasn't ready to do that on Saturday.

Hader turned into a superstar in 2023 for the Padres, pitching to a 1.28 ERA in 56 1/3 innings. He held opposing hitters to a .163 average and just a .224 slugging percentage. Hader's 36.8 percent hitting rate was his lowest since his rookie year in 2017, but that's still… Ranked in the 99th percentile From baseball.

“I think a lot of times teams just sign players and think it's a business, but there's a big human side to us here and I think the front office understands and Dana, being a baseball guy and being in the game a long time, understands that,” pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. said. “I think Ryan would probably appreciate that and I think there will be great opportunities for all the players to step up and take on their roles. If I knew Presley, he said he wanted to win a world championship and do his part. He's a great teammate.”

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