Blue Jays rumors: Why the Interest in Brad Hand?
By Reuben Gasee
Why are the Toronto Blue Jays interested in making relief pitcher Brad Hand a part of their bullpen and team for the 2021 season?
For the first time in a few years, the Toronto Blue Jays have been linked to a bevy of high profile free agents so far this offseason, and it feels like the pursuit is legitimate. With the team on the rise, the front office believes now is the time to start adding to its roster and improving the team in anyway it can.
One of the areas that the team is looking to add to is the bullpen. It’s an area that’s always a need for every team each offseason as typically, most relievers get one-year deals due to how volatile the position tends to be.
The Blue Jays bullpen has lost Ken Giles and Anthony Bass to free agency, and while both are free agents, they could very well sign with a different team. As Giles recently went under the knife for Tommy John surgery, he’s very unlikely to be brought back as his recovery timetable doesn’t fit the stage the Jays are currently at. When healthy, Giles has been the closer of the Blue Jays since he came over to the team at the 2018 trade deadline and did quite a good job in that role. He posted a 2.83 ERA over 78 games with 38 saves.
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The front office now needs to find someone to take over the closer’s role. While they could go with what they have internally in Jordan Romano or Rafael Dolis, a better option may be to seek an established closer to fill Giles vacancy. If that’s the case, enter Brad Hand.
Earlier in his career with the Miami Marlins, Hand was nothing more than a mop-up man recording a 4.71 ERA in his tenure down south. He was eventually released and picked up by the San Diego Padres where he established himself into an anchor at the backend of the bullpen. He was later shipped to the Cleveland Indians at the 2018 trade deadline where he carried on his success from San Diego.
Since the middle of the 2018 season with Cleveland, Hand has compiled a 2.78 ERA with 58 saves and 154 strikeouts in 107 innings pitched. They are clearly serious about cutting payroll, as they declined his $10 million option for the 2020 season, which came as a bit of a surprising move as he led the major leagues in saves with 16 while also putting up a 2.05 ERA and an opponent average of .169.
The Blue Jays have already been linked to Hand as they are looking to add a left-handed reliever to their bullpen. Hand would form a very strong back end consisting of him, Romano and Dolis.
If the Blue Jays were the ones that end up signing the veteran left this winter, he would likely serve as the closer due to his success in that role, which has resulted in him getting three consecutive trips to the All-Star game.
Hand would be an excellent addition to the team on a multi-year deal.