Late Tuesday night, Jon Heyman of MLB Network indicated that Los Angeles is apparently making a play for lefty reliever Brad Hand, potentially creating a bullpen loaded with a quartet of former All-Stars.
The Dodgers have seemingly been linked to Hand since the conclusion of the World Series, with rumors having gained momentum as early as Thanksgiving. At the time, Jon Morosi of MLB Network indicated the team could potentially use Hand in the same capacity it used Treinen last season.
However, with Treinen now on board, Hand could conceivably join a bullpen crew that could be among the most talented that Los Angeles has seen in years. More importantly, the club would have several options for the closer’s role, should veteran Kenley Jansen falter.
At the conclusion of the 2020 season, Hand was placed on waivers by the Indians, as Cleveland was hoping some team would claim him under his $10 million price tag. The three-time All-Star ultimately cleared waivers, mandating the Indians to pay his $1 million buyout. As a result, he’s currently a free agent without a contract.
Originally selected by the Marlins in the second round of the 2008 draft, Hand made a career-high 82 appearances for the Padres in 2016, right around the same time the rumors initially began to swirl about the Dodgers having interest in him.
Just before the 2018 trade deadline, San Diego shipped Hand and righty Adam Cimber to the Cleveland bullpen in exchange for catcher Francisco Mejia, who was ranked among MLB’s most elite prospects at the time.
During the 2020 shortened season, Hand led all of baseball with 16 saves, posting a 2.05 ERA, a 1.37 FIP, and a very impressive 0.773 WHIP, alongside 29 punchouts in an even 22 innings over 23 appearances.
Over the course of his 10-year big league career, he has tallied a 3.65 ERA, a 3.69 FIP, and a 1.235 WHIP over 396 appearances. He has a career 9.2 K/9.
As far as his scouting report goes, Hand’s main weapon is a sweeping slider, often resulting in a much higher number of flyballs compared to other relievers. His four-seam fastball also generates more flyballs than usual, while showing plenty of natural sinking action. His true sinker is probably his best put-away pitch in terms of swings and misses.
Hand has also been known to sparingly tinker with a curve ball.
After peaking in the 94-95 MPH range during the 2018 season, Hand’s fastball sat at 91-92 MPH in 2020, according to Brooks Baseball.
While the Dodgers’ current 40-man roster is full, that doesn’t seem to be the biggest problem for bringing on new acquisitions, as there are several players on the big league fringe who could prospectively be designated or released.
The most challenging dilemma, though, would be the team payroll, should the club want to stay under the Luxury Tax Threshold for the 2021 season.
Including Treinen’s new deal, the team’s estimated Luxury Tax Payroll for 2021 sits at $205,208,166, which is about $5 million shy of the cap, according to a worksheet found on Fangraphs.
Of course, front-office boss Andrew Friedman and his crew have the ability to creatively tinker the makeup of the 40-man roster to adjust the dollars, but one might assume that a potential Justin Turner signing may be unlikely, especially after the financial hit the organization took last season due to the pandemic.
Whatever the case may be, the hot stove remains quite steamy in Los Angeles.