The prize of the group is Hand, who currently serves as the Padres’ closer. He’s third in the majors with 21 saves and owns a 1.78 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and a 13.25 K/9. Those numbers compare very favorably to Kimbrel.
While Kimbrel appears uncomfortable in non-save situations, Hand has proven more adaptable. The Padres have used him in the eighth inning to face the heart of the opposing team’s order rather than wait for the glory of a ninth-inning save.
It doesn’t hurt that Hand is a lefty. Boston’s bullpen is short on left-handed options outside of Brian Johnson, who should never be allowed near a close game. Left-handed bats have hit a minuscule .054 with a .309 OPS against Hand this season. He’s no lefty specialist though. Right-handers are only hitting .200 with a .626 OPS.
The 28-year old signed a very team-friendly three-year, $19.75 million deal last winter with an affordable $10 million team option in 2021. He’s a bargain even in a setup role. His success as a closer would give the Red Sox the option to move on from Kimbrel after this season.
Hand’s excellent production and contract make him appealing. It also will make him expensive in trade talks. The Red Sox may not have enough left in the cupboard to acquire him with other teams in need of bullpen help circling the Padres like vultures. Think of the haul the Red Sox gave San Diego for Kimbrel, who had three years left on his deal at the time. Four prospects, including two of their top six. The asking price for Hand will be similar.