Brad Hand, LHP, Padres
What’s up: San Diego was never going to be a postseason player this year, but it still could be a mover and shaker. In Hand, the Padres have one of the most coveted trade pieces on the market as the July 31 deadline approaches. There has been speculation that Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the two best teams in baseball, are going to press hard to acquire the left-handed reliever. The Rockies also need relief help, but their bigger need is righthanders.
Background: Not long ago, Hand was a lost pitcher languishing in South Florida. In parts of five seasons with the Marlins, the 27-year-old had a 4.71 ERA spread across 43 starts and 47 relief appearances. He had no set role and his career was going nowhere. The Padres claimed him off the waiver wire at the end of spring training in 2016 and made him a full-time reliever. Now he’s become a reliable late-game performer, posting a 2.71 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 136L innings during his time with the Padres. He hit his stride prior to the all-star break. In 47 innings pitched, Hand had a 2.30 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP with 60 strikeouts vs. only 13 walks.
Saunders’ take: We all know that the Rockies need bullpen help, but I don’t think Hand will be the right fit. As good as he’s been, he is a lefthander and the Rockies already have two solid lefties in Jake Mcgee and Chris Rusin. Mike Dunn, signed for $19 million over three years, has been one of the Rockies’ biggest disappointments. After an excellent April, he’s struggled, as evidenced by his 5.40 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. The Rockies still believe that Dunn can get right. We’ll see about that, but I’m thinking they’re going to target a right-hander to shore up the bullpen. The Marlins, who have been scouting the Rockies as a possible trade partner, have two solid right-handers in closer AJ Ramos and David Phelps. There have also been rumors that Colorado might be interested in Philadelphia’s Pat Neshek, though I’ve heard nothing concrete about that.
The Padres’ Brad Hand pitches for the National League during last week’s All-star Game at Marlins Park in Miami.