Since the New York Mets season ended, I have switched gears on my thoughts about Brad Hand. Only a few weeks ago, I thought of him the same way I thought of Trevor Williams. I could take him or leave him as a member of the 2022 roster.
Now, with the dust settling and some time to look at what the Mets could possibly do with their bullpen next season, I’m a little closer to making a 180-degree turn.
Hand is not a must for the Mets to bring back in 2022. However, given the uncertainty every free agent class of relievers brings and how tough it can be to pick up a good one via trade, why not put out some feelers and see if there is a mutual interest?
An open invitation for Brad Hand to return to the Mets in 2022
Hand ended up pitching 13.1 innings for the Mets where he posted a 2.70 ERA. It was a nice turnaround from what he did with his two prior teams.
In 42.2 frames with the Washington Nationals as their closer, Hand hand-delivered (I’ll see myself out) a 3.59 ERA to go along with 21 saves. He became a trade deadline casualty where he ended up with the Toronto Blue Jays. In only 8.2 innings for them, Hand was 0-2 with a 7.27 ERA. They saw enough of him and cut bait real fast.
Hand’s track record prior to 2021 was one of the best in baseball for a relief pitcher. We can go back to 2016 when he first became a full-time reliever with the San Diego Padres. From 2016-2020, Hand was 17-18 with 104 saves and you guessed it—an ERA of 2.70 which matches what he did with the Mets in a baker’s dozen+ innings.
The trouble with Hand is that even the worst teams in baseball could view him as a cheap closer option. Hand is going into this free agency class with some doubters. With his age 32 season upon us, it’s quite possibly he is trending away from the ninth inning role and more toward something similar to what he did for the Mets in 2021 for the final month.
Hand, paired with a returning Aaron Loup, isn’t such a bad start to keeping the bullpen a strength of this team. Add in one more guy to count on and the Mets are pretty well set beyond the starting five—whoever they may end up being.
While he did manage to get a $10.5 million deal from the Washington Nationals last offseason, it’s probably not going to happen this winter. Depending on what he wants most from his next team could factor hugely into whether or not he pitches for the Mets again.
A perpetually below .500 team could view him as a $6 million closer to trade in July if things go well. And if things don’t, they can convince themselves this experienced veteran passed along some knowledge to their younger players.
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Hand didn’t appear to spend enough time in New York for fans to get to know him and vice versa. On the open market, if interest isn’t there and he’s willing to only close when needed, why not reunite for another season or two?