A couple of days after the Cleveland Indians placed him on outright waivers, it was revealed that Brad Hand went unclaimed (reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman) and is now in the market, which is something that may catch the attention of both the New York Yankees and Mets.
“Not one team claimed Brad Hand for $10M. He was a top 3 finalist for AL reliever of the year with a 0.77 WHIP. and 16 saves. Time to revise free agent contract projections downward! (Hand is now a free agent after Indians then declined the $10M option and paid $1M buyout,)” Heyman tweeted.
The transaction was made to cut cost, as the Indians didn’t want to pay him the $10 million to return. They were hoping that some team would claim the stellar left-hander and be on the hook for the money, in which case Cleveland wouldn’t have to pay the $1 million buyout. But since nobody claimed Hand, they will need to provide the $1 million payment.
The Indians probably thought someone would claim Hand, given his strong track record of success and the fact that he was one of the top relievers in the American League this season. Sure, some fans may have his collapse against the New York Yankees in the Wild Card series in mind, but the fact remains that he’s an elite reliever.
Should the Yankees and Mets be interested?
For the Yankees, it comes down to the potential cost. I’ve been saying that they need to build their bullpen from within and develop their own pitchers, but part of putting together an excellent relief unit is targeting low-cost free agents.
It’s not likely that he comes in very cheap, but he probably won’t be getting $10 million, since nobody wanted him at that price.
Hand, who is still in his prime at 30, led the American League with 16 saves this year and had a 22/4 K/BB ratio with a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings.
As for the Mets, Hand makes for an excellent target. Steve Cohen is taking over ownership and while he may not be after the big free agents, adding an arm like Hand to the bullpen makes perfect sense for a roster that is just a couple of pieces away from contention.
Both the Yankees and Mets would benefit from having Hand in their bullpen. Will one of them make a move for him?