The Indians are among the clubs with interest in Padres closer Brad Hand, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Yankees and Cubs are among the other teams that have been previously linked to Hand in recent days.
Cleveland’s interest in Hand comes as little surprise. The 28-year-old left-hander has established himself as one of the game’s premier relievers over the past couple of seasons, and he’s signed to an affordable deal that guarantees him $6.5MM in 2019, $7MM in 2020 and has a $10MM club option for the 2021 season. The Indians, meanwhile, have surprisingly had one of the game’s absolute worst bullpens in 2018 and typically operate on a fairly tight budget, making Hand’s contract all the more appealing.
Of course, that contract and Hand’s excellence dating back to 2016 — 2.66 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, 0.9 HR/9, 46.5 percent ground-ball rate in 213 innings — mean he’ll come with an especially steep price tag. The Indians have shown in the past that they’re willing to dip into their farm for significant upgrades at the deadline under the current front office structure, and a deal to bring Hand to Cleveland would bear similarity to the team’s 2016 acquisition of Andrew Miller from the Yankees (certainly in terms of significance and quite possibly in terms of price point). Cleveland sent vaunted prospects Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield to the Yankees as part of that exchange.
It’s fair to expect that if the Indians have inquired about Hand, they’ve also spoken to the Padres about righties Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen — each former members of the Indians organization themselves. San Diego figures to be actively listening on all three, after all, and at least in terms of bullpen targets, the Indians have been most prominently connected to relievers they can control beyond 2018 so far. Cleveland is reportedly interested in Baltimore righty Mychal Givens, and the Indians have also been tied to Marlins relievers such as Kyle Barraclough, Drew Steckenrider and Adam Conley.
That said, given the fact that Cleveland relievers have been clobbered for a 5.28 ERA that ranks 29th in the Majors this season, the Indians will surely be exploring myriad options as they look to fortify the bullpen with an eye toward October baseball.