All month long we’ve been speculating what kind of return the Padres could get for Brad Hand, who has been on fire since being claimed by the team last April. The trade deadline came and went, and to the benefit of the Padres, Hand is still in San Diego.
Many saw Brad Hand as the Padres best option to bring in some more top prospects to fatten up the system some more. The Padres felt this way as well, since reports everywhere were flying that the team set their price high and didn’t budge at all. Even up to the final hour, reports were coming out that A.J. Preller and company had not lightened up the asking price even a touch.
Fans and writers speculated that the Padres would eventually move Hand, since he was one of the top left-handed relievers on the market. So when the trade deadline passed and Hand remained with the team, people pointed their fingers at Preller.
Instead of lowering the price for Hand and ending up with a deal that wasn’t worth his time, Preller stuck to his word and kept his price where he felt it should be. Now, the Padres can either keep Brad Hand around long-term or find a better trade partner come Winter like the Friars did in the past with Craig Kimbrel.
If you don’t remember, the Padres made the move for Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr. in April of 2015. Despite being with the team for just a couple of months, there were rumors the Padres could ship him off near the deadline. However, they didn’t sell low and kept Kimbrel around until Winter, when they flipped him for Manuel Margot an Carlos Asuaje who are impressive at he big league level today, and Logan Allen and Javier Guerra who are both on the Padres top 30 prospect list. Well, Guerra recently fell off the list.
So, option A for the Padres is: Let Hand finish the season and continue to dominate, showing teams that he is no fluke. Then move him in the winter for some top-level prospects and guys that will make a difference in the Padres organization for the future.
Option B is: Let Hand develop into a dominant closer for the Friars and keep him in the bullpen through the development of the team. Not likely, but the team appears to be weighing that option presently.
Brad Hand is only 27 years old and only has 3.092 years of service time, which means he is controllable until the 2020 season. The Padres have estimated themselves to be ready to contend between the years of 2020-2022, which puts Hand at the cusp of a team that can potentially grow into a consistently contending team.
Prior to be claimed by the Padres, Hand spent five years in Florida making appearances for the Marlins. He started out as a starting pitcher, but eventually ended up being worked as a spot starter and bullpen arm. In those five years with the Marlins, Hand pitched 288.2 innings and held a 5.71 ERA. He racked up 190 strikeouts and a noticeably high 120 walks. It’s safe the say the Marlins didn’t necessarily make the wrong move waiving him.
It was the Padres who saw the potential in Hand and decided to give him a shot. In two seasons, he has thrown 143.1 innings for the Friars while holding a strong 2.57 ERA. Hand dropped his ERA from 5.30 (2015) to a new career high 2.97 (2016) in his first season with Padres. He recorded career high numbers in strike outs (111) despite only throwing in 89.1 innings which is just his third most (2014 111.0 IP w/ 67 SO, 2015 93.1 IP w/ 67 SO).
This season, Hand has struck out 70 batters, and is on pace to allow a career low 26 walks. He is currently on a four save streak, including wracking up three saves in as many days. He has is ERA down to a solid 2.00 and hasn’t allowed a single run since allowing four on June 10th. So it’s safe to say, Brad Hand is only getting better.
With him continuing to get better and being only 27 years old, Hand is in the perfect position to not only be a dominant reliever for the Padres for many years, but also be a role-model in the bullpen for so many young, upcoming pitchers. As you’ve seen this season, there have been many new faces coming up from the minor league system. From Franchy Corder0 to more recently Kyle McGrath, the team has brought up new players. For years to come we will continue to see new guys make their debuts both on the field, and on the mound.
These guys will need some guidance on how to handle things on and off the field. Being on the big stage is something that is not to be taken lightly and Padre fans have first-hand (no pun intended) seen what can happen if players with raw talent can’t handle the big stage (i.e. Khalil Greene). So for new guys to come up and into the Padres bullpen, it’s important that they have a dominant, easy going, veteran role-model like Brad Hand to share the bullpen with.
So don’t panic fans. Not moving Brad Hand at the trade deadline isn’t the worst thing ever. A.J. Preller has shown time and time again he knows when and when not to make moves. Not making this move means that Preller sees some potential for this team down the line. We will see what he has up his sleeve.