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October 27, 2018

Edwin Diaz

Josh Hader

Mariano Rivera

Trevor Hoffman

Boston, Massachusetts

HEIDI WATNEY: I am Heidi Watney from MLB Network. Welcome to the announcement of the 2018 Reliever of the Year Award presented by The Hartford. These awards were revamped in 2014, officially named in honor of two of the greatest relievers of all time, and they're joining us here again today. So thank you, guys, for your time, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman book-ending this talented table up here.

I would like to formally announce our winners and welcome our special guests. We will start with the Commissioner Rob Manfred.

COMMISSIONER ROB MANFRED: As Heidi said, the Reliever of the Year Award was revamped in 2014, and I have to thank Mariano Rivera and newly minted Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman. Their assistance in this process, really has made the awards special for us and we appreciate your input.

I also want to thank the relievers who vote every year along with Mariano and Trevor, Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, John Franco, Lee Smith and Billy Wagner. A really great panel picking our winners each year.

You know, the redo of this award was really timely. I think in the last few years relief pitching has probably attracted more attention than any other position in baseball. And I think it's great that the The Hartford has stepped up to sponsor this award, and has given the award some continuity. Doug Elliot, who is here with us, thank you for that.

Without further preliminaries, the Mariano Rivera Reliever of the Year Award presented by The Hartford this year is Edwin Diaz of the Seattle Mariners. Edwin led the Major Leagues with 57 saves, the second most in history. He had 1.96 ERA. He was the winning pitcher in the All-Star Game. And we're looking forward to a lot more great things, because he's only 24 years old. Edwin, great year and congratulations to you (applause).

The Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year presented by The Hartford is Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers. Josh, most importantly led the Brewers to their first division title in a number of years and all the way to Game 7's of the League Championship Series. He led all relievers with 143 strikeouts, the most ever by a left-handed relief pitcher. In 23 appearances, where Josh pitched two innings or more, the Brewers were 23-0, pretty amazing accomplishment. So, Josh, congratulations to you (applause).

HEIDI WATNEY: The Reliever of the Year Awards are presented by The Hartford for the fourth year in a row. The Hartford has a long and unique history with Major League Baseball. It's actually pretty special. They've been insuring individual clubs for many, many years, and they even insured Babe Ruth in the 1920s, if you can believe it. That's pretty cool. Now, this special evening has become an annual tradition at the Fall Classic. Without further ado, I want to welcome the president of The Hartford, Doug Elliot.

DOUG ELLIOT: Thank you, Heidi. I was not there to do the underwriting of Babe Ruth's policy.

I just want to thank everybody for joining us today as we unveil the Reliever of the Year Awards for both the National and American League. We're especially honored for have Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman with us, two of the all-time greatest closers, and terrific ambassadors for our brand, The Hartford. Congratulations to Edwin Diaz and Josh Hader for an outstanding year. We saw another example of how pivotal and critical role the relievers play on the game today. So on behalf of the 19,000 employees of The Hartford we're so proud to partner with the MLB Commissioner and be part of the festivities tonight. Thank you all (applause).

HEIDI WATNEY: So we know who these great relievers are up here at the podium. They really need no introduction, but just in case, seven-time All-Star in the National League, Trevor Hoffman was one of the most intense pitchers to ever play the game. If you are were ever in San Diego when he was coming in, you certainly felt the heartbeat of that stadium, Trevor.

TREVOR HOFFMAN: Thank you, Heidi. Obviously it's fantastic to be here with you guys. I can't believe it's been 20 years since my appearance in the World Series, and getting to go up against a historically great Yankee team was fantastic. But getting the chance to watch an equally fantastic Mariano Rivera do his work was an honor, and it's a privilege to be up here on stage with him.

I'm equally thrilled to continue our relationship with The Hartford, Doug and Kathy and Mike, and all they do for representing us as players, and the award we're able to give out today is an honor for me equally.

Commissioner, I got a chance to hang with you a little bit in Cooperstown this summer. Talk about things, meeting expectations, I can't begin to express what an amazing summer it was for me personally and my family. So it's great to be here with you again.

Josh, congratulations, man. I'm super pumped to give you the Trevor Hoffman National Reliever of the Year Award. I'm glad Maria could be here with you. Fantastic stuff having you here. Your numbers speak for themselves. As a former Milwaukee Brewer, I'm excited to have that connection with you. Hate to be long-winded, going back to the '16 Futures Game, little did I know there was going to be such a great player. I only used him for just a third of the inning. Big mistake on my part. Congratulations, Josh. Thanks for being here.

HEIDI WATNEY: In the American League, he is a 13-time All-Star and he really gave the word "closer" a whole new meaning, Mariano Rivera.

MARIANO RIVERA: Thank you. It's amazing, Doug, and you are a closer with this, short and sweet (laughter). That was great. Kathy and Mike, I have to thank The Hartford for having us here. Amazing job you guys do.

As a former closer and reliever, I mean this man, here, we have a Hall of Famer. I have a question to ask this guy, a lot of things that I have to ask, anyway.

I have Josh and Edwin, the job that you have done has been amazing. It's special when we see you guys go in there day in and day out, and doing the job that you guys have been doing. It's amazing. So both of you, congratulations. But Edwin, great job. And you have your parents here, that's important. That's important. So for me it's an honor and pleasure to present you with the Reliever of the Year Award (applause).

HEIDI WATNEY: So we will take a few questions on this topic of the amazing awards that these two guys have won here.

Q. The award is usually given to someone who leads in saves, and this award was given to Josh Hader, who isn't a saves leader, more atypical reliever, who comes in whenever and gets guys out. What does that say about the changing landscape of relievers in baseball?
TREVOR HOFFMAN: To be honest with you, I think we're seeing a microcosm of what baseball is turning into, with the bullpenning and things like that. Andrew Miller received the award a few years ago, the Mariano Rivera Award, in an equal position with the Cleveland Indians.

I think it was obvious of the year that Josh had, it was that dominant from a reliever's standpoint, it was taken into consideration the number of saves, but I think his year stood out amongst everybody else's.

Q. Nice to see all of you. Mo, as you're embarking on your first year on the BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot, what are your thoughts? And have you talked to Trevor at all about his experiences this year preparing for it and going through the ceremony, writing his speech, and all that entails this summer?
MARIANO RIVERA: Yes, I've been asking Trevor the minute I saw him, taking some notes about that, too. I don't know how to express that, because when it comes, I will give you a better answer to that because right now I don't know what to expect. It's something that brings me back home when I was just a little one there in Puerto Camaito, Panama, and now being considered a Hall of Famer, I mean, on the ballot, it's amazing. So I mean, I think I will give you a better answer when that time comes.

HEIDI WATNEY: You can go ahead and say "Hall of Famer". We all know.

Edwin, you had a bet with your manager when you got to 50 saves, he would cut his hair just like you. Did you expect him to go through with it?

EDWIN DIAZ: Yeah, you know, at that point early in the season I had like three saves already. He came to me, I came with a new haircut to the ballpark. He said, "Hey, if you get 50 saves, I will make my hair like you." And I had nothing to lose, so I said, "Let's do it." When I get the 50 saves, I keep all the balls of my saves. I keep it, bring them home, and put them everywhere in the house. But I give that ball to him to let him know, I got to 50, so you have to be ready to get the haircut (applause).

HEIDI WATNEY: It looks better on you.

EDWIN DIAZ: No, he looks swag.

HEIDI WATNEY: You think he'll start this season with that haircut?

EDWIN DIAZ: No, let's see what happens. Let's see what I can change next season.

HEIDI WATNEY: Josh, your experience in the postseason, you came in, and you mentioned earlier, you don't have as many saves, because you were used in different roles, but your experience in the NLCS, you would go three dominant innings, nobody wants wanted to face you. Do you think that role has changed, it's not necessarily a closer, it's come in whenever.

JOSH HADER: I think it really comes down to pitching. I think that whenever your time is up and you can get out on the mound and help the team out in any way, I think that as long as you don't set a role to yourself, I think that's really where the game is going now. Pitchers are just going out there to pitch, and ultimately to get outs and help the team win.

HEIDI WATNEY: Do you feel like this award is extra special because you weren't the traditional closer for the year?

JOSH HADER: To even be in the same breath as these guys, it's truly special.

Q. For Josh and for Edwin, I wonder if you could each comment on each other. Is there something you admire about each other's performance this year?
JOSH HADER: You know, for us in Milwaukee we always caught the West Coast games, towards the end of their games, and just watching Diaz pitch is unbelievable. Watching how he goes about hitters, and how he uses his slider as a weapon. I think that's the biggest thing. Kind of played into my game where I kind of focused on using that fastball-slider combination. And seeing what he goes in day in and day out, it's unbelievable.

EDWIN DIAZ: And for Josh, it's amazing, great pitcher. I saw him a lot because those games came early. So if I am a hitter, I don't want to face him, because he's really nasty. It's amazing what he did this year with Milwaukee.

Q. Trevor, I'd like to ask you the same question, what was the year like for you, and what kind of recommendations do you have to Mariano moving forward?
TREVOR HOFFMAN: Yeah, it was an amazing summer, obviously. I think the difference between -- Mo's being very humble. There's a guarantee that Mo is going to obviously be a first ballot Hall of Famer. It reminds me when Mr. Gwynn was on the ballot the first time. He was super humble about it. It goes to show you the type of person Mo is.

It's a whirlwind of a weekend. It's something you only dream about. And once you're finally a part of it, you can't believe the men of the game and the pillars of this game you get to hang with, and what kind of a fraternity that is. It's something my family is I will always cherish. It's something I'm looking forward to embracing Mo being there this summer.

HEIDI WATNEY: Congratulations on a terrific year (applause).

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