After New York Yankees relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle elected to hit free agency after undergoing Tommy John surgery this past season, he left a void in the bullpen. The Yankees need upgrades in multiple positions, and with veteran relievers like Adam Ottavino struggling in 2020, feeling confident in the area might be overly optimistic.
That doesn’t mean the Yankees have a lack of talent because they have some solid players who can get the job done. They still have Zack Britton, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Ben Heller, Jonathan Loaisiga, and several other supplemental pieces.
However, the expectation is that the Yankees will target a relief arm this off-season, and there is one that stands above the rest and has received interest from other clubs.
Former Cleveland Indians’ ore life arm Brad Hand is one of the better options on the market. This past season, he finished with a 2.05 ERA over 22 innings pitched. He was fantastic, with elevated strikeout numbers, including 11.86 strikeouts per nine.
Hand primarily uses his fastball, sinker, and slider. While he’s not a high-velocity guy, he has fantastic control and location abilities. He would be a very nice fit with the Yankees as they try to piece together some of their weaker units. Nonetheless, most consider the bullpen for the Yankees one of the strongest links, and adding Hand would only improve it.
There are appealing options on the free-agent market, paced by Brad Hand, whom the Yankees last saw coughing up the lead in the memorable Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series against the Indians. The lefty was lights-out during the regular season, converting all of his Major League-leading 16 saves while pitching to a 2.05 ERA over 22 innings. He struck out 29 against four walks.
One of the more attractive aspects regarding Hand is his consistency. The last time he had an ERA over 3.30 was back in 2014 with the Miami Marlins. Since then, he’s improved dramatically, and at 30 years old, he is still in his prime. Also, he’s a lefty and stands at 6-foot-3, giving him solid size and a bit of diversity for the Yankees in the bullpen.
Ultimately, it boils down to his contract, as Hand went unclaimed after being placed on outright waivers. Other teams had an opportunity to pick him up and his $10 million option, but they rejected. This made him a free agent, so the Yankees could likely land him on a bargain deal worth under $10 million. Cashman is looking for cost-efficient pitchers, so Hand falls right into that category given his price tag.