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

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson

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.

New York Mets: What is Next After Missing Out On Brad Hand?

On Sunday, the New York Mets surpsingly lost out on Brad Hand to the Washington Nationals on a one-year, $10.5 million deal. Hand joined the Nationals because he will serve as their closer, an opportunity he would not have received with the Mets. With Hand off the board, who is the lefty that will join the bullpen?

Hand would have made a tremendous addition in the Mets bullpen but would only set-up Edwin Diaz. If the Mets paid more than $10.5 million, they could have easily signed him. There is no point in offering closer money to use Hand before the ninth while other roster needs to be filled. Fans may complain about missing out, but the Mets did all they could to land him.

Three Good Left Handed Options

1. Justin Wilson

Justin Wilson is seen as plan-B for the Mets bullpen, and they know him very well. Despite little chatter surrounding Wilson, he is a very underrated part of a strong bullpen. Wilson had a 2.97 ERA, with 67 strikeouts over 58.2 innings during his two seasons with the Mets. He was a key part of the bullpen due to his ability to get righties and lefties out and sign for around $4 million-$5 million.

2. Aaron Loup

Aaron Loup made great work of his opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays during the 2020 season. Loup had a 2.52 ERA in 24 games and had four scoreless appearances against the Houston Astros in the ALCS. He does not possess Wilson’s swing and miss stuff but was great at limiting walks (4 in 25 IP). Loup also produces plenty of ground balls with his heavy sinker. He would bring another great veteran presence to the bullpen.

3. Chasen Shreve

When the Mets non-tendered Chasen Shreve, it came as a huge surprise because of his solid 2020. Shreve emerged as a multiple innings reliever and had the best strikeouts rate of his career. His fastball/split-finger combination propelled him to a 12.2 K/9. Shreve’s 37.8% whiff rate also finished in the top four percent of all pitchers in baseball. He is much bigger of a risk because of his lesser track record, but it is worth considering. If partnered with Wilson again, the Mets could rekindle Shreve’s 2020 success.

 

New York Mets Among Final Three Teams in Brad Hand Sweepstakes

Brad Hand is the left-handed piece the New York Mets need to solidify their bullpen, but he is not an easy sign. The Mets are also competing with the Toronto Blue Jays and Houston Astros to acquire the three-time All-Star’s talents.

There was a report of the Mets being close to a deal a couple of days ago, but it never came to fruition. This was the same situation when the Mets signed James McCann. Both sides were close to a deal, then it was not true, and in the end, McCann ended up signing with the Mets.

A legitimate argument could be made for Hand being a better reliever than Liam Hendriks. Hand will undeservingly receive less money and is a bargain for his elite level of production. If the difference between the Mets signing him is years, not money, they would be foolish to hold out on giving him his requests. The track record for Hand is excellent and stronger than Hendriks since 2016.

Hand is just as important of a signing as George Springer but easier to replace. Justin Wilson is a reliable replacement compared to Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Pillar for center field. The second Hand signs with the Mets, they will have the best bullpen in baseball, and that is something the Mets have not been able to say in the history of their franchise.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: With DJ at $15M annually, now the Yankees go after some pitching

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

After a long wait, the New York Yankees have now completed their number one priority of re-signing second baseman DJ LeMahieu, the best hitter in baseball. Maybe now the Yankees can address their biggest need of the offseason the Yankees rotation and bullpen. The Yankees, according to owner Hal Steinbrenner wants to stay under the $210 million luxury threshold; in doing so, it will allow little wiggle room to address the other needs of the team, primarily pitching. The lower than expected cost to resign LeMahieu will definitely help. Here are some targets the New York Yankees could be interested in.

Jake Odorizzi age 30:*

Jake Odorizzi would likely be the most expensive addition to the New York Yankee’s rotation. It is not likely that he would accept a one year contract for less than $15 million. Obviously, he would make a fine second behind ace Gerrit Cole in an otherwise untested bunch of young arms. The question remains if the Yankees will be able or willing to spend to get him in pinstripes. With the Yankees signing LeMahieu for just $15 million annually is now a target the Yankees should consider.  Odorizzi last season, like many pitchers, had a poor season but has tremendous potential.

Masahiro Tanaka age 32:

According to WAR, Tanaka is the second-best pitcher still left in free agency after Odorizzi. The Yankees know Tanaka is not affected by the big stage that is Yankee Stadium after just fulfilling a seven-year contract with the team. Tanaka made $23 million with the Yankees in 2020. They will not sign him for anything near that figure. He has not been as dependable for the last two years and was atrocious this past postseason. In two games, he posted an astronomical ERA of 12.37. Tanaka may have played his last season in pinstripes.

Adam Wainwright, age 39:

Wainright is now 39 years old. The fifteen-year pitching veteran would like to resign with the Cardinals, but that doesn’t seem likely after them not making him a qualifying offer. For obvious reasons, Wainwright will be open to signing a one-year deal, which could make sense for the Yankees. Wainwright would likely cost the Yankees in the $10 million range. Last season he was 5-3 with an ERA of 3.15 in ten games.

Corey Kluber age 34:*

Kluber was an ace-type pitcher in 2018, and if healthy, he could return to that pitcher again. Corey Kluber barely pitched at all in his one season with the Texas Rangers because of shoulder problems. The year before, he broke his forearm and only pitched 35 innings for the Cleveland Indians. But the year before that, he was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Because of his injuries, his value will be reduced by at least half, meaning the Yankees, if willing to take the risk, would likely get him for $6-10 million on a one-year contract. If healthy, it could be a huge upgrade from Masahiro Tanaka, who the Yankees are also considering. It’s low risk with possible high reward.

Tyler Chatwood, age 31:

Tyler Chatwood would be costly to the Yankees but could be gotten far cheaper than in 2019. Chatwood, like many pitchers, didn’t have a good year last season for the Chicago Cubs. He went 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA, which will significantly drag down his $13 million in earnings for 2020.

Chatwood has always had tremendous potential that has never been fully realized. He is known as the spin rate king. If Yankee pitching coach and harness that, he could be the one to turn Chatwood into a star. If the Yankees can get him for $5-6 million on a one year deal, it could have big-time rewards for the Yankees.

Yankees need bullpen help.

Brad Hand age 30:*

Brad Hand is probably out of the reach of the Yankee’s financial ability, although he is one of the top relievers in baseball. He would be a good replacement for Tommy Kahnle that went for a two year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Hand last year was 2-1 with an ERA of just 2.05, finishing 21 games for the Indians. Getting DJ LeMahieu cheaper than expected could keep Hand in the running.

Archie Bradley, age 28:

Bradley had an impressive year that wasn’t kind to relievers; he pitched in 16 games, going 2-0 with a 2.95 ERA. Like so many players, he was not given an offer by the Cincinnati Reds. Bradley is desirable as he throws a mix of pitches: A four-seamer and sinker both in the mid-’90s and a wicked knuckle curveball. He also has a changeup. He is a groundball pitcher, which makes him a good fit for Yankee Stadium.

Mark Melancon, age 35:

Melancon is a twelve-year veteran that pitched for the New York Yankees between 2009 and 2010. Melancon has had a very successful pitching career after leaving the Yankees, and he is pitching as well now as he ever has. We know the bright lights of Yankee Stadium don’t affect him. Last season with the Atlanta Braves, he was 2-1 in 23 games with an ERA of just 2.78. Compare that to Aroldis Chapman’s 3.09.

Aaron Loup age 33:*

Aaron Loup’s addition would give the Yankees a lefty reliever that they have been missing for years. It would provide an entirely different look in the mid-innings bullpen. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton out of the Tampa Bay picture, why not capitalize by snatching Loup from re-signing with the Rays. After a regressive tenure in Toronto, Loup found his best stuff with the Rays in ’20, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. He’s yet to allow a postseason run in five appearances. He also wouldn’t break the Yankees bank either. Loup could cost the Yankees less than a million dollars on a one year contract.

*my picks for the Yankees.

New York Mets: Brad Hand and Front Office Off By A Year

The New York Mets are still in pursuit of Brad Hand to round out their bullpen with an All-Star left-hander. Though there is mutual interest from both sides, the Mets hope to offer Hand a one-year deal while Hand is looking for multiple years.

It is hard to find a reason why Hand does not deserve the same deal as Liam Hendriks. Hand has pitched with the same level of production but for a longer period of time. Since 2016, Hand has a 2.70 ERA while Hendriks has a 3.08 ERA.

Should The Mets Him Multiple Years?

Contract extensions for Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor and other arbitration cases give the Mets plenty of big decisions in the 2021 offseason. The decision with Hand is based upon whether the Mets want to pay a high large amount for another reliever who is not their closer. If he signs, Hand will become the second-best reliever on the roster.

The Mets should give Hand the extra years because they do not have a left-handed reliever remotely close to Hand’s level. Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, and Brad Brach become free agents after 2021, which frees about $20 million for next season. About $13 million-$15 million can go towards Hand, and his production alone would be better than Betances, Familia, and Brach combined.

Hand is a difference-maker in the bullpen as a left-handed version of Seth Lugo. Adding him gives the Mets the best bullpen in baseball and makes them the number one contender to challenge the Atlanta Braves for the National League East crown.

Mets remain interested in Brad Hand, whose price may have increased after the Hendriks’ deal

New York Yankees, Brad Hand

The New York Mets have several trustworthy relievers for the 2021 season. They signed Trevor May, who will join Seth Lugo and Edwin Diaz to form a formidable trio at the back of the bullpen. They also have a number of bounce-back candidates that, if they pitch to the top of their abilities, can make the unit an elite one: Jeurys Familia, Robert Gsellman, and Dellin Betances fall in this category.

However, if they add one more reliable piece, manager Luis Rojas can rest easy knowing that he will have at least four top relievers for those tough outs at the end of games. Liam Hendriks, who was a New York Mets’ target, is now off the market after signing a lucrative three-year deal with the Chicago White Sox.

However, left-hander Brad Hand remains unsigned, and he is a fantastic fit for a Mets team that lost lefty Justin Wilson to free agency. As it turns out, and according to SNY’s Andy Martino, Hand remains in play for the Mets.

When the Cleveland Indians placed Hand on outright waivers near the end of 2020, no one wanted to claim the $10 million salary he was slated to make. Now, as a result of the Hendriks deal (he will make $39 million through the first three years and then there is a $15 million buyout on the option, which is also worth $15 million) Hand’s prospects of getting the two-year pact he desires just got bigger.

The Mets could be getting an elite reliever

The 30-year old has been an elite reliever for years and is still in his prime. In 23 2020 games, he pitched 22.0 innings of a 2.05 ERA and a 1.37 FIP, with a fantastic 33.7 K% and a minuscule 4.7 BB%.

Martino cites league sources when he says that “New York was one of several teams that was willing to sign Hand for one year and slightly less than the $10 million he would have made if claimed on waivers in October. All 30 clubs passed on the three-time All-Star at that price (at least during the waiver period), making him one of the top relievers available on the open market.”

“Hand is seeking a two-year deal, and has not yet found it. But many in the industry were surprised at the hefty salary that Hendriks commanded — a $54 million guarantee over three years, in a deal that includes a fourth year option or deferred buyout for the same money, he continued.

Martino explains that “one executive believed that the Hendriks deal would slow free agency because some agents were starting to show a willingness to lower prices. Now, a reliever like Hand might feel even more justified in seeking a multi-year deal. Perhaps Hendriks’ good fortune will trickle down on some level to Hand.”

Hand blew the save in Game 2 of the Wild card series against the Yankees, but that shouldn’t stop the Mets, or any other team, from pursuing him. He was a perfect 16-for-16 in saves during the regular season.

Will the Mets make a high-profile relief pitching addition and bring Hand into the fold?

New York Mets: Offseason Moves Progressing As Expected

The New York Mets are still in a good spot after Liam Hendriks signed with the Chicago White Sox. Hendriks is the first big name to fall off the extremely slow-moving free-agent market. His signing leaves George Springer, Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, and D.J. LeMahieu as the final big names looking for deals.

Hendriks was always on the Mets’ radar but was a “want” not a “need” for their bullpen. Their bullpen already had plenty of dominant hard-throwing righties, making left-hander Brad Hand a perfect fit for them. Once the Mets signed James McCann, they were already out on Realmuto. For the Mets’ sake, they hope Reamulto signs in the American League.

Two Controversial Figures

Trevor Bauer’s free agency went from something exciting to a Bauer-esque annoying, drawn-out episode. Bauer is commanding the highest AAV in baseball history, which has to make Jacob deGrom chuckle. If anyone deserves Bauer’s asking price, it is deGrom or current AAV record holder Gerrit Cole. After trading for Carlos Carrasco, the Mets are out on Bauer until the price becomes reasonable.

The Mets got a dynamic bat when they acquired Francisco Lindor, which brought George Springer’s future into question. Springer is also commanding a large deal, but the Mets also have huge contracts on their books. Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, and Lindor are some of the names that warrant contract extensions. Robinson Cano’s hefty contract is also a burden thanks to Brodie Van Wagenen and steroids.

The Mets are the only team that can afford to pay Springer his asking price. MLB’s uncertainty with the designated hitter also puts the Mets in a tough roster situation. Despite the questions surrounding the roster, the Mets are still the front runner for Springer.

The Silent Assassin

It takes a lot to frustrate D.J. LeMahieu, but the New York Yankees did it. Whether the anger is real or a hardball tactic, LeMahieu urged his agent to reach out to a handful of teams, including the Mets. LeMahieu is a huge wild card for the Mets because there technically is nowhere for him to play on the infield.

Obviously, LeMahieu is better than J.D. Davis and the Mets would make a trade if he was signed. Davis is too valuable to keep on the bench and becomes the odd man if LeMahieu signs. Opening the wallet for LeMahieu would benefit the offense and defense more than signing Springer. LeMahieu is the better hitter, and the Mets can settle with signing Jackie Bradley Jr. or Kevin Pillar.

Even though all three players have different odds to join the Mets, you can throw those away with Steve Cohen as the owner.

 

New York Yankees Weekend News Roundup: All the news/rumors in one place

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Yankees in danger of losing DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees have dragged their feet in signing DJ LeMahieu, their best player in the past two years. It’s now the middle of January in a very slow, to say the least, offseason for the Yankees where they have done little to enhance the team, and that includes bringing back DJ in pinstripes.

News around the Net and industry sources say that DJ is getting tired of waiting for the Yankees to meet his demands. Sources say that he made it known that he wants to stay in New York after originally talking with other teams. But with the stalemate, he is now re-engaging teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Mets, and the Toronto Blue Jays. With each passing day, the Yankees are coming closer to losing LeMahieu to one of those teams willing to meet his prime priority of future security.

Yankees bring back another familiar arm.

The Yankees seem intent on stocking their minor league system with pitchers that have pitched for the Yankees before. First Nestor Cortes Jr., then Adam Warren, and now they have signed to a minor league contract, Tyler Lyons. Lyons. This is a head-scratcher. Lyons pitched in one game for the Yankees during 2020. On September 23rd, he pitched 1.2 innings giving up four earned runs for an ERA of 21.60, in a 14-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

During the second half of the 2019 season, Lyons pitched 8.2 innings in 11 games with a 0-1 record and an ERA of 4.15. Of the three notable arms the Yankees could use in the bullpen, Lyons has been the least successful. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees still need a quality arm to replace Tommy Kahnle, who has gone with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The New York Yankees still need bullpen help.

The Yankees lost Tommy Kahnle last season when he required Tommy John surgery. The Yankees chose to assign him to the minor leagues, and Kahnle refused the move and chose free agency instead and was near immediately signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Behind closer Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, Kahnle was likely their third-best arm in the bullpen. That is a glaring hole in the bullpen, considering that Adam Ottavino has had two subpar seasons in a row.

The Yankees once had the best bullpen in the sport, but with these deficiencies, the bullpen is now in dire need of at least one premium upgrade. So far, all they have done is sign previous Yankees that have not done all that well at the Stadium. The Yankees need an arm with the quality of Liam Hendriks, Yates, or Hand. A previous target Ryan Stanek has gone to the Houston Astros. Because of cost, the Yankees will not likely sign Hendriks, but Brad Hand is a quality arm at a more economical price. Hand had a 2.05 ERA in 2020 with a strikeout rate approaching 12 per nine innings.

Padres/Mets still the teams to watch in 2021

While the New York Yankees have done nearly nothing to improve the team in 2021, the San Diego Padres have been the big movers and shakers along with New York Mets. The Padres made a big trade when they got Black Snell from The Tampa Bay Rays. They then negotiated a trade for another ace, Yu Darvish from the Cubs. But they weren’t done; they are now close to re-signing Fernando Tatis Jr. to a massive $300 million contract for the next 11 years.

Meanwhile, on the other side of New York in Queens, the New York Mets shook up the New York sports scene when they traded for the best shortstop in baseball in Franciso Lindor. Suppose that wasn’t one of the most notable trades of the offseason they also got Carlos Carrasco in the deal. Carrasco is a quality number two type pitcher that the Yankees certainly could have used. New Mets owner Steve Cohen has made it known that he wants to make the Mets the premier baseball team in New York City.

New York Yankees lose more chances to upgrade starting pitching

With each passing day, the Yankees need to upgrade their starting rotation remains the same. Earlier, they lost their best chance to upgrade the rotation with a one-year signing of Charlie Morton. Morton was available, but the Atlanta Braves scooped him up for just $15 million. The Yankees have also talked about re-signing Mashiro Tanaka, but his agent has been advised that they will not negotiate until they know if they can sign DJ LeMahieu.

Trevor Bauer is the best starting pitcher still available in free agency, but the Yankees are likely not in the picture to sign him as they want to stay under the luxury tas threshold. Mike Minor has already signed with the Kansas City Royals. That leaves Jake Odorizzi and Tanaka as the next best two arms the Yankees could use. Odorizzi had a great 2019 but an injury-riddled 2020. He made $17 million last year, but with his poor 2020, he will likely sign a contract of less value. The same is true of Tanaka; he made $23 million. The Yankees are not likely to offer him more than half of that and only for a year or two.

 

 

 

The Yankees could target one fantastic bullpen arm

New York Yankees, Brad Hand

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.

MLB Insider Bryan Hoch stated:

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.

New York Mets: Brad Hand is a Tremendous Fit For Their Bullpen

The New York Mets need another good left-handed reliever after Justin Wilson became a free agent. If Steve Cohen owned the team when Brad Hand was waived, he would already be a Met. Now that Hand is a free agent, he would be a good fit in their bullpen.

Hand has a 2.70 ERA since his transformation to a full-time reliever in 2016. While the Mets want Liam Hendriks in the bullpen, they do not need him. Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, and potentially Dellin Betances are all late-inning relief options. Hand is an upgrade to Wilson and is much cheaper than Hendriks.

Freddie Freeman, Juan Soto, and Bryce Harper are just a few of the fearsome left-handers in the NL East. Hand can neutralize them while completing the ninth inning against right-handed hitters due to the three-batter minimum. Much like an offense, the more dynamic a bullpen can be, the better chance of success each reliever has.

While the Mets wait for a decision on Trevor Bauer and George Springer, Hand is a good signing which continues to solidify the roster. It is clear the Mets are interested, but can they seal the deal for their first signing of 2021.