In what is the second biggest trade of the All-Star break, Brad Hand is now officially a member of the Tribe, and no, I am not referring to the Jewish one. The All-Star closer is having a spectacular season, posting a 3.05 ERA with 24 saves and 65 strikeouts in 44.1 innings of work. He was traded along with reliever Adam Cimber to the Indians for prized catching prospect Francisco Mejia, who is ranked the #15 overall and #1 catching prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Hand should give the Indians bullpen some tremendous depth, especially with the return of reliever Andrew Miller, who has been out since May 25th with a knee injury. As tough as it is to give up a prospect the caliber of Mejia, the Indians front office seems to have the mantra of wanting to win right now.
They are currently 1st in the AL Central, owning a record of 52-43, and had 6 players in this year’s All-Star Game. Adding Hand to the team will be a major upgrade from their previous closer Cody Allen, who owns a 4.66 ERA with 20 saves. It’s trades like this that can be the difference maker between a playoff-caliber team, and a World Series team. After losing to the Yankees in 5 games last year in the ALDS, the Indians are hungry to make a deep postseason push this year and realize they have the talent to do so.
The Indians control Hand through 2020, with a $10 million club option for 2021. Hand made his MLB debut in 2011 and struggled mightily for the first 5 years of his career with the Marlins. In 2016 he was claimed off waivers by the San Diego Padres, where he then started to find his role as a late reliever/closer. He is armed with both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, which usually sit between 92-96 MPH. However, his best pitch is his wipeout slider, which many scouts deem to be one of the best in the MLB. He throws this pitch in the 81-85 MPH range and generates a tremendous amount of swing-and-miss due to its late, sharp break.
It is without question that Brad Hand is one of the best closers in baseball. He should also make up a nice battery with catcher Yan Gomes, who was an All-Star this year for the first time in his career. Be on the lookout for the Indians in the second half of the MLB season, armed with All-Stars such as Corey Kluber, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and now, Brad Hand, they are poised to make a deep postseason run.