The Dodgers are gearing up for a big bullpen move.
This was about four years in the making, but the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to reports, are interested in signing Brad Hand, whose $10 million team option was declined by the Cleveland Indians earlier in the offseason.
The Dodgers have been linked to Hand via trade talks for years now, dating back to his time with the San Diego Padres. However, the NL West rivals ended up moving him to Cleveland to keep him out of the division.
Now that he’s a free agent, team president Andrew Friedman seemingly isn’t wasting much time getting in on the action, especially with the Dodgers in need of some bullpen help. Blake Treinen, Pedro Baez, Alex Wood and Jake McGee are all set to hit free agency, and whether you liked them or not, they played integral roles on the pitching staff.
The Dodgers signed Treinen to a one-year, $10 million deal last offseason and Hand was about to fetch that same amount in 2021. The difference? Hand led the MLB in saves this past season with 16. Nothing against Treinen, but the Dodgers should surely take that back-end bullpen experience over the righty’s 3.86 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 2020.
Hand has been an All-Star closer for the past four seasons and the Dodgers’ biggest issue has been the lack of that kind of presence. Kenley Jansen is no longer serviceable in the ninth inning. Bumping him down to eight-inning duties would likely be the most ideal scenario if LA wants to repeat as World Series champions.
And who knows! If Hand can be had at a discount, we shouldn’t rule out Treinen returning. He’s certainly a help in the bullpen, but if the Dodgers have to choose between the two, Hand should undoubtedly get the nod.
The Indians gifted the free agent market with Hand instead of simply picking up his option and trading him. This transaction will only cost the Dodgers money and they’ll likely have leverage because they’re the reigning champs and the Indians’ decision certainly played a role in affecting his value despite his impressive ’20 campaign.
This is a layup for the Dodgers, so honestly we’re not sure what’s taking so long.