San Diego Padres Take A Great Risk, Hold Onto Hand

Source: Mark Brown/Getty Images North America

Source: Mark Brown/Getty Images North America

As I am writing this, it is 1:02 PM PST and the trade deadline has come and gone without any Padres trades. Well except for the trade that sent Brandon Maurer, Trevor Cahill, and Ryan Buchter to the Royals for Travis Wood, Matt Strahm, and Estuery Ruiz, but you already knew about that. But the big trade that everyone anticipated, the Brad Hand deal that would net the Padres a few solid prospects, failed to materialize. According to Ken Rosenthal on Twitter, the Padres elected to hold onto Hand.

So here we sit on July 31 with Brad Hand still a San Diego Padre. Did the Padres make a mistake holding onto Hand? Or was this the right move for the future of the franchise? That’s a rather tricky pair of questions to answer, so let’s dig a little deeper and dissect the thinking of the Padres’ front office.

From the beginning, it was clear the Padres had a high asking price for Hand, as well they should given his performance over the last year and a half. I have talked about his performance on several occasions but it still bears repeating. On the year, Hand has thrown 54 innings over his 49 appearances, striking out 33 percent of hitters while walking less than seven percent. On top of that, Hand sports a shiny 2.00 ERA with a 2.52 FIP to go along with it. Even more importantly, Hand has excelled in the closer role for the Padres since Brandon Maurer was dealt early last week. All in all, it was clear that Hand was having a great year and was showing himself to be an immensely valuable reliever.

So why didn’t anyone take A.J. Preller’s bait and make a deal? Well there could be a variety of reasons for that. On top of everything else, Hand just doesn’t have the track record or shine that similar relievers, such as Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, and Zach Britton, have. Sure, his numbers have been somewhat comparable over the last two seasons, but he doesn’t throw upper-90s and he wasn’t closing out ball games before this last week. As cliche as it sounds, teams still do care about those two things when looking for relief pitching help.

However, with all this in mind, did the Padres set their asking price too high? While arguments could be made that the Padres did set the price too high, I would have to disagree. With over two years of team control remaining, and a chance for his value to improve if he continues to excel in the closer role in the second half, there was no need for the Padres to pull the trigger. Sure, you run the risk of Hand getting injured or seeing a downturn in his performance, but at the end of the day, he still has a whole two years of team control remaining. Given the volatility of a majority of relievers, team control just doesn’t seem to play that much into the calculus of other teams when deciding what a player is “worth” in a trade.

If A.J. Preller was demanding a top-100 prospect, and not budging at all from that demand, then it makes sense why a move was not made. Based on other moves that were made, it seems like teams just weren’t willing to pay big for a bullpen upgrade as they were in years past. Sure, the Chicago Cubs made a semi-big deal for left-hander Justin Wilson from the Detroit Tigers, but the addition of Alex Avila somewhat muddied the prospect price in that deal. It was also clear the Cubs didn’t really have any place for Jeimer Candelario to play, so they lacked the kind of leverage they may have had otherwise. By contrast, the Los Angeles Dodgers, in acquiring Tony Watson and Tony Cingrani, and Houston Astros, in acquiring Francisco Liriano, decided instead to make smaller moves to improve their bullpen rather than pay the high prospect price that was associated with either of Hand or Zach Britton. On top of that, the Washington Nationals, who were another team with interest in upgrading their relief corps, elected to instead acquire Brandon Kintzler from the Minnesota Twins, once again showing that contenders were looking for cheaper prices.

So where does this leave the San Diego Padres? At this point, that remains unclear. A.J. Preller and company are probably hoping that Hand continues to excel for the rest of the season, now as the closer, and the Padres can extract the kind of return they want this offseason. For those who remember, a very similar strategy played out during the 2015 trade deadline, when the Padres held onto Craig Kimbrel but then pulled the trigger on a move during the offseason. That move netted them the package of Manuel Margot, Carlos Asuaje, Logan Allen, and Javier Guerra, a move which has worked out well for the Padres so far. You have to think the Padres are hoping for a similar set of circumstances with Hand.

However, there is a great deal of risk in this strategy, as I mentioned above. Hand could get hurt, he could stop pitching as well as he has been, and his value could fall precipitously from where it currently sits. Even so, if the price just wasn’t right today, it’s a defensible move to hold onto Hand, take that risk, and hope for the best. It’s not always going to work out in your favor, Tyson Ross for example, but sometimes you need to take on risk in order to see a big reward.  And that’s just what the Padres are hoping for from Brad Hand.

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Patrick Brewer
Editorial and Prospect Writer for East Village Times. Twenty-five years young, Patrick has lived in San Diego for his entire life and has been a Padres fan nearly as long. Patrick lives for baseball and is always looking to learn new things about the game he loves through advanced stats.

9 thoughts on “San Diego Padres Take A Great Risk, Hold Onto Hand

  1. The idea that GM’s don’t want to trade with AJ doesn’t make any sense to me. The safest time to fly is after a big crash, when everyone is going over the safety rules. It is safer to deal with the Padres now that they are under scrutiny, and other teams know that. Also, trades are not made primarily based on how much the GM’s like or respect each other, but what each thinks he can gain. AJ has made some mistakes (Trea Turner, Jedd Gyorko), but for every one of those he has pulled off multiple great ones, and gotten players like Wil Myers, Drew Pomerance, Jose Pirela, or Fernando Tatis. Not bad trades at all, I am sure you will agree. With AJ, Green, and Balsey, and supportive ownership, I doubt that I am the only one that sees success around the corner for the Padres.

  2. Preller and Co. Did the right thing. If they were not getting offers they liked, why did the “have to” trade Hand? If Preller and Co. start taking low ball offers for players as good as Hand is, then this franchise will never get better. And conversely, if you trade good players “in case” they might get hurt, you will never have enough good players on the roster to compete. Instead of worrying about an injury, let’s think about the 15 or so saves Hand is going yo get the next 2 months to only raise his value. Plus if the Padres had traded Hand for lesser prospects, the would have been scrutinized for not getting enough for what would have been a “premier bullpen arm”.

    Last year was the “year of the reliever” as far as prospect return and the 2 teams that went all in met in the World Series. The 2 previous years, the Royals rode a three headed monster to back to back World Series appearances. It will be interesting to see how the bullpens of the Nationals, Astros and Dodgers fair in the playoffs, at some point I would wager Baker, Hinch and Roberts would like to call down to the pen for someone as reliable as Brad Hand.

  3. I commented on another article here about a week ago that Padre fans would likely be disappointed by the results of the trade deadline.

    I also mentioned the possibility/likelihood that the other GM’s may, for good reasons or not, be reluctant to, if not refuse to, deal with AJ Preller. Be that as it may (and I personally think it is) I don’t think people are willing to address, or admit, that it is a much bigger issue, and directly played a hand (no pun intended) in the reluctance/refusal to trade with AJ. [Yes, he may have had high asking prices, but he could have traded countless other players … he could have received SOME value (e.g. for Chacin, Solarte) BUT HE DID NOT!!!!!]

    1. @William Preller can trade with whoever he wants you retard! If that’s where the value is no GM is going to trade for an inferior player or trade more/better prospects for a player who is just as good. It’s ridiculous that you would even THINK to suggest such a thing, lmfao.

    2. Haha, your entire rationale is that people didn’t want to trade with AJ because of his reputation. OMG William, you must be one of those conspiracy theorists that believes the world is flat, because the majority of contending teams were blowing up Prellers phone, inquiring about Hand and possible trade scenarios. If they really wanted to stick it him they would’ve never even called him in the first place. Baseball is a performance base sport, if GMs were intentionally avoiding Preller because of his previous transgressions, then they shouldn’t be GMs in the first place. Whether you like someone or not, you still gotta do your due diligence to get the best players on your team. PERIOD. I can’t believe I have to respond to the dumbest statement I’ve ever read, but let’s hope your not in the business for talent acquisition because you’d be terrible at analyzing people.

      1. That’s the full extent of your ability to reason, and to discuss? Disagree? Great. But … Mockery? Insults? Evasion of reason. Nonsense? And more nonsense?!?!

    3. Ever since last years debacle (with Drew P being hurt) there are has been speculation about how this would impact Preller’s ability to function with other General Managers. That IS real!!!!!!! To not acknowledge that reality likely comes from Preller sycophants (see tweedle-dee and……) It may have been a good move not to trade Hand, but the fact that Preller only made one trade, and a puzzling one at that, could indicate a short term problem, or a long term problem for him to be able to function at the level GMs need to. Also, it is human nature for other GMs to be reticent to trade with, or help another GM who “cuts corners” or worse (and has been punished multiple times by MLB). It is also human nature for people to willfully ignore this reality, and to personally attack anyone that brings it up.

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