Red Sox should claim closer Brad Hand off waivers from Cleveland Indians
The Red Sox need for a closer can be solved with a waiver claim.
Recently, I wrote about the options being declined that will flood the free-agent market with assorted talent and most are a very big yawn. There is also a fishing expedition that takes place and that is a player being placed on waivers. If a club claims a player on waivers they own his contract. Waivers explain who Rusney Castillo stayed in the Red Sox organization.
The Cleveland Indians have placed left-hander Brad Hand on waivers, which means if Boston wants him they can have him for $10 million. If not, they can wait since Hand may go unclaimed and the Indians will decline his option and pay Hand $1 million. Hand then becomes a free agent, but the risk is apparent since Hand is a prime candidate to be picked off waivers. With the Red Sox dismal showing in 2020, they are well up in the pecking order for Hand with the fourth-highest priority.
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Just how good is Hand?
If you go by Hand’s performance in the ALWC against the New York Yankees you would look elsewhere, but in the regular season, Hand led the American League in saves with 16. Hand did not blow a save and his “numbers” were strikingly successful. A 2.05 ERA/1.37 FIP, 1.6 BB/9, 11.9 K/9, and a 1.1 fWAR to ranked fifth among all relievers. The negative is a dismal 26.5 GB%, but even with that Hand allowed no home runs in 22 innings pitched. His splits on RH/LH batters are .251/.187.
Hand is no novice at closer and has accumulated 105 career saves with the bulk (103) acquired since 2017. The success rate is 82% for his career and since his move to the bullpen in 2016, Hand has consistently shown up for work by routinely appearing in 60+ games a season sans the 37% season.
The Red Sox had Matt Barnes as the closer in 2020 and Barnes may be in the market for $4.5 million via arbitration. Barnes for his career has a 45.5% for saves and in 2020 went 9-for-13. The Red Sox could also bring back Brandon Workman or look internally for other options.
Boston could also explore the trade winds and see what is available. The Red Sox have a growing stash of minor league talent, but for me, that seems counterproductive. The free-agent list has the usual adventure regarding talent from the forgettable to the expensive.
The more I think about it (always dangerous), the more I feel comfortable with the prospect of Hand coming to Boston for a season. No long-term commitment, the money is available, and the team can then decide on possible down the road options.