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MLB Offseason Round-Up: Top Relivers Come Off the Board, Carpenter Goes Home

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Matt Carpenter, MLB offseason

This is one in a series of daily articles highlighting the latest news and notes from the MLB offseason.

The free agent bullpen market has been slow to develop this winter, but two of the top relievers are now off the board.

The Houston Astros were said to be making a push for left-handed closer Josh Hader, and there is now an agreement in place. Hader is headed to Houston on a five-year, $95 million deal, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. He will receive a full no-trade clause.

Hader was not only the top relief pitcher available this MLB offseason, but is arguably the top closer in the game of baseball. The five-time All-Star posted a dazzling 1.28 ERA in 61 appearances with the San Diego Padres last season to go along with 33 saves.

For Houston, they will have a strong one-two punch in the back of their bullpen with Hader and Ryan Pressly.

Hader wasn’t the only reliever to find a new home on Friday, however. As first reported by @Jolly_Olive on Twitter, Robert Stephenson has agreed to a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Angles. There is also an option for the 2027 season.

Stephenson began the 2023 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for shortstop Alika Williams. After struggling to the tune of a 5.14 ERA with the Pirates, Stephenson pitched excellently for Tampa Bay.

In 42 appearances for the Rays after the trade, the right-hander went 3-1 with a 2.35 ERA. In 38.1 innings pitched, he struck out a whopping 60 batters and only walked eight. Opponents hit a mere .138 against him.

Stephenson is the most notable addition to the Angels’ bullpen this winter, an area that has been a focal point. Los Angeles already signed Luis García, Adam Cimber and Zach Plesac.

CARPENTER BACK TO STL

The St. Louis Cardinals have brought back one of their long-time former players in Matt Carpenter on a one-year contract.

The 38-year-old was released by the Atlanta Braves shortly after they acquired him from the San Diego Padres earlier in the offseason.  Carpenter called St. Louis home from 2011-2021 and was named a National League All-Star on three occasions while with the Cardinals.

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