Like it or not, Josh Hader wouldn't push this Cubs team over the top

A record-breaking contract for the All-Star closer didn't make sense given the plethora of other needs the front office needs to address this offseason.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres
Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres / Orlando Ramirez/GettyImages
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The biggest relief name on the market came off the board on Friday, with All-Star closer Josh Hader inking a five-year, $95 million deal with the Houston Astros that sets a new present-day value reliever record with no deferred money.

Hader, 30, earned the fifth All-Star selection of his career last season with the Padres, working to a 1.28 ERA (2.69 FIP) and 1.101 WHIP in 61 appearances, en route to 33 saves. Aside from a second-half blip during the 2022 campaign, the left-hander has been the epitome of consistent dominance since bursting onto the scene with the Brewers way back in 2017.

Cubs, All-Star closer Josh Hader were an imperfect match, at best, despite his ties to new manager Craig Counsell

As far as the Cubs are concerned, Hader was never going to be a realistic option unless his market totally bottomed out. Jed Hoyer has not only avoided long deals with relievers, he's avoided multi-year pacts altogether, and setting a new high-water mark for relief contracts would have been wildly out of character for Chicago's president of baseball operations.

Had the team been one big bullpen arm away from being legitimate World Series contenders, as was the case when the Cubs swung a deadline deal for Aroldis Chapman back in 2016, it would've been a different scenario altogether. But right now, Chicago has to find ways to add to the offense, as well as the bullpen, if it wants to return to the postseason for the first time in a full-length season since 2018.

Hoyer is heavily focused on the relief market, in general, right now - with The Athletic singling out a handful of arms to keep an eye on in the coming weeks. But given the needs this team has, including, again, at least one and hopefully two impact bats, dropping nearly $100 million on one arm didn't make a ton of sense - regardless of how good Hader has been in recent years.

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