The Blue Jays’ long list of free agent targets has extended to the bullpen market, as MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets that Toronto was recently in touch with left-hander Brad Hand. The former All-Star entered free agency after the Indians declined their $10MM club option on Hand’s services.
Hand was placed on waivers by the Tribe prior to that declined option, as Cleveland was looking to save paying Hand a $1MM buyout by exposing him to any team willing to make a claim. All 29 teams (including Toronto) passed on Hand at the time, which is possibly indicative of how clubs are viewing spending on relief pitching this winter. In an offseason where more or less every team will be dealing with payroll limitations, a $10MM average annual value even for an established star reliever like Hand could be a reach.
The Jays are thought to have more spending capacity than most teams this winter, however, which is part of the reason they have been so quick to explore so many of the top names available. While they might not have been comfortable claiming Hand back in October, the Blue Jays would certainly seem to have a fit for Hand at the back of their bullpen. With Ken Giles being out for much of the 2020 season, six different pitchers recorded saves for the Jays last year — Anthony Bass led the way with seven saves, but Bass is now a free agent himself.
Rafael Dolis and Jordan Romano represent a pair of intriguing in-house closer candidates, so as Morosi notes, signing an established closer like Hand may be more of a need than a want for Toronto. That said, there is certainly value in being able to roll out multiple strong relievers, especially for a Jays team that has a few questions marks within its starting rotation.