As the weather changes and another season of the game of baseball comes to a close, it is time to start thinking about off-season transactions.
The San Diego Padres will surely be players when it comes to active trade talks. The team has a rare combination of young prospects and relevant major league talent that could be shopped around. Names like Yangervis Solarte, Travis Jankowski, and Brad Hand will come up in trade talks for sure.
Both Solarte and Jankowski are victims of the surplus of talent available at their positions, while Hand could be dealt simply to maximize the value he presently has. Brad Hand came to the Padres in April of 2016, as the Miami Marlins had grown tired of his inconsistencies. He had great ability, but the fish continually insisted that he start instead of relieve.
Once in San Diego, the Padres and Darren Balsley worked with Hand on consistency and staying between his lanes with his mechanics. With a new sense of trust about his control, Hand excelled as a Padre and became the team’s all-star in the 2017 season, a year in which he was dominant (3-4 2.16 ERA) and recorded 21 saves while striking out 104 in 79 innings. Most impressive was that he walked only 20 on the season and his WHIP dropped to 0.933, which was a career high.
At the age of 27, Brad Hand is only reaching his potential as a pitcher.
He is capable of so much, as he has proven to be a safe, reliable option out of the pen.
The failure of a bullpen can kill postseason dreams. No matter how well you think your bullpen is constructed, you surely need more depth in October. The Astros, Yankees, Dodgers, and Cubs are all deep pitching staffs, but when it comes down to it, each will have some degree of interest in the Padres’ left-handed pitcher come November.
A.J. Preller will have his pick of packages, and you can be sure he will explore all options.
Will Brad Hand be dealt for sure?
The likelihood is high, but nothing is a given with the Padres’ young G.M. He has proven that he moves to the beat of his own drum in the past and rarely does what is deemed the norm. He will not make a trade for the sake of doing it.
Hand will be discussed with teams at some point though. That is a guarantee.
With two full years of service time before free-agency at the end of the 2019 season, Hand has maximum value. He made just over $1.3 million last year and is eligible for arbitration, but is signed at a premier price. Teams will salivate at the potential to make a move for Brad Hand.
Can the Padres pull the trigger?
The demand will be there. The Padres will have no trouble finding a trade partner. We know this.
The question is– is a package of prospects worth replacing a quality left-hander?
A.J. Preller has the ability to package Hand with lesser-tiered prospects in the Padres’ farm system, if, say, the team wants to make a serious run at a top-notch prospect like the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres. Not that the Bombers would want to move him, but if a team was hesitant to trade their top talent for Hand, the Padres could soften the blow with a decent return of prospects. Just something to think about.
Trading Brad Hand and re-situating the bullpen for the 2018 season will be a top priority this off-season.
A.J. Preller understands that the window of opportunity for this club is coming. His job will be to gracefully add talent at the right time for the team to grow as a whole unit. Brad Hand is a big part of the chemistry right now, but if a package of prospects comes along, then the Padres will have no choice but to do what is right for the future.
Some fans will view a potential Hand trade as another sign of the team’s intent to constantly “pull the wool” over the fans’ eyes. Yes, Brad Hand is a all-star. And yes, he is a very recognizable name for the novice fan. But he also has top value presently, and time and time again we have seen the value of Padre pitchers diminish quickly (Tyson Ross/Andrew Cashner, anyone?). If A.J. Preller gets a deal that makes sense, then Brad Hand will be moved. It’s as simple as that.