The Braves have acquired reliever Brad Hand from the Rockies, the clubs announced. Minor league reliever Alec Barger goes to Colorado in a one-for-one swap. Atlanta already had an opening on their 40-man roster.
Hand was one of the more obvious trade candidates this summer. The veteran reliever signed a buy-low deal with the Rockies late last offseason. He received a $1MM bonus for making the roster and is playing the year on a $1.5MM salary. Less than $500K remains to be paid out, though he’s also guaranteed a $500K buyout on a $7MM option at season’s end. That provision was a club option for Colorado but converts to a mutual pact now that Hand has been traded.
It’s largely immaterial, as Colorado never seemed likely to exercise the option. Hand has been a solid but unexceptional middle innings arm for the Rox. He’s tallied 35 2/3 innings through 40 appearances, working to a 4.54 ERA. That’s his worst ERA since moving to the bullpen seven years ago, though pitching half his games in Coors Field hasn’t done him any favors.
Despite the diminished run prevention, Hand has gotten an uptick in swing-and-miss. His 26.1% strikeout rate is his best mark in three seasons. His 9.7% swinging strike percentage is still a fair bit below-average but a little better than those of his prior two years. While he’s gotten tattooed by right-handed hitters, Hand has stifled lefties to a .143/.276/.204 batting line with 20 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances.
He’ll add a veteran specialist to a relief corps which Atlanta has sought to deepen over the past week. The Braves also acquired Pierce Johnson from Colorado and recently claimed Yonny Chirinos from Tampa Bay. They’re not impact additions, but Atlanta’s bullpen is already strong. The Braves enter play Tuesday with a 3.67 relief ERA that ranks fifth in the majors. It had been righty-heavy with Dylan Lee on the injured list; Hand adds a second option behind A.J. Minter, likely for more situational work.
In return, Colorado picks up some upper minors relief depth. Barger, 25, is a former 17th round selection out of North Carolina State. He’s spent the season at Double-A Mississippi, working to a 3.29 ERA with a quality 29.3% strikeout rate. Barger’s 12.8% walk percentage is elevated, but the Rockies are clearly intrigued by the bat-missing potential and the bottom line results. He’d be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter if not added to the 40-man roster, though the trades of Johnson and Hand (and likely a forthcoming deal of Brent Suter) could open an opportunity for him to get a late-season debut.
Robert Murray of FanSided first reported the Rockies were trading Hand for Barger.
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