The middle of the offseason is here, and the Dodgers have, without a doubt, made the biggest moves. After signing Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Tyler Glasnow, the front office has spent over $1 billion on this roster.
Despite the big money, the team still has some holes that could use some attention. As of right now, the team does not have an everyday left fielder and could benefit from one more starting pitcher.
On top of that, the Dodgers have been linked to a few closers this offseason, including Josh Hader. Jim Bowden of The Athletic, in an interview on CBS, linked LA to Hader once again. As one of the biggest markets in baseball, the Dodgers get mentioned in contention with almost every free agent. This one, though, does not make a ton of sense.
The talent speaks for itself. Hader is one of the best closers in the game – making the All-Star team five times, even earning Cy Young votes. He’s coming off one of his best seasons’ where he had 33 saves and a 1.28 ERA in 61 appearances. While nearly every bullpen could use a left-hand pitcher like Hader, he does not align with the Dodgers’ approach to the bullpen.
First, the president of baseball operations, Andrew Friedman, does not like handing out big contracts to relief pitchers. Hader wants a larger contract than the 5-year $102 million the New York Mets gave reliever Edwin Diaz years ago.
Second, ever since former closer Kenley Jansen’s departure, the team has gone with a “closer-by-committee approach.” Evan Phillips may be the team’s de facto closer, but who pitches the 9th inning comes down to matchups. If reports coming out of San Diego last year are true, then Hader wants to be used almost exclusively in save situations.
Last, the Dodgers frequently ask their relievers to get more than three outs or finish one inning, to then start the next. In 2023, Hader never recorded more than three outs, let alone pitch across two innings.
As a pure talent, the Dodgers, of course, could use someone like Hader. However, philosophically speaking, it does not seem like a good fit.