Nats had the upper Hand; Mets may pivot to familiar lefty now

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson
Sep 14, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Justin Wilson (38) reacts after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets missed out on the Brad Hand sweepstakes on Sunday, as the left-handed reliever, who the team coveted for months after the Cleveland Indians put him on outright waivers last year, decided to commit his immediate future to the Washington Nationals.

Presumably, Hand prioritized the chance to close games and re-build his value with an eye on the fall, as he will hit the market again after the 2021 season. The Mets, with Edwin Diaz on the roster, couldn’t promise saves to Hand, as good as he is.

The 30-year-old bullpen ace had a 2.05 ERA and a 1.37 FIP in 22.0 frames last season, with a phenomenal 33.7 K% and a minuscule 4.7 BB%. His fastball velocity, however, is trending in the wrong direction, and the Mets decided not to further pursue him given that the Nats secured him at a $10.5 million salary for 2021.

The Mets’ offer to hand was competitive

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman explained that the Mets offer to Brad Hand “was said to be right in the ballpark where Hand signed. Don’t know exactly what made the difference but he does live in the West Palm area, where Nats train.”

Now, the Mets can pivot to a familiar face in their search for a left-handed arm to fill out the bullpen. According to Heyman, they could now target Justin Wilson after swinging and missing on Hand.

“Mets may consider lefty Justin Wilson now. Wilson spent the last two years in Queens, and they like him. For now Mets are righty heavy in pen,” Heyman wrote.

Wilson, 33, has a career 3.27 ERA and a 3.34 FIP in 429 1/3 innings. He has been a good, reliable bullpen arm for years, and was great with the Mets in 2019 (2.54 ERA, 3.91 FIP) and 2020 (3.66 ERA, 3.04 FIP.)

Now that the pricey relievers are flying off the market, teams may now focus on arms like Wilson to fill out their bullpens.