Closer Brad Hand led the American League with 16 saves and ended the 2020 season with a 2.05 ERA. Despite dominating the league in saves, the Indians placed Hand on waivers and will decline his $10M buyout if he goes unclaimed.
This revenue saving plan should not come as a surprise to Indians’ fans as Tribe’s President Chris Antonietti said the following a few weeks ago:
“The economics of baseball are pretty complicated. The TV deal is one component of it. The reality is we didn’t take in any money from our local market. We didn’t sell any tickets. We didn’t sell any concessions. There wasn’t parking revenue. Our corporate partnership dollars were severely impacted. The reality of the finances in baseball in 2020 is that the industry lost billions of dollars and as a team we lost tens of millions of dollars. That puts us in a really difficult financial position that will take us years to recover from.”
Antonietti’s statement was an indicator that the team will look to drop salaries and put the team in rebuilding mode. If the organization uses the savings of Hand’s contract to keep players such as SS Francisco Lindor, 1B Carlos Santana, or 2B Cesar Hernandez then perhaps this can be viewed as a positive. However, that seems unlikely due to their history of not paying for player’s contracts.
Many times, fans would feel skittish with Hand on the mound. However, he showed consistency. He should easily be picked up by another team with his stat line – 2 wins/1 loss 2.05 ERA/ 22 innings pitched with 29 strikeouts along with a league-leading 16 saves.
This will leave the Tribe without a closer.
There are a few options available on the current roster such as James Karinchak or Cal Quantrill. The team is also notorious for developing young players, so it remains to be seen who will fill Hand’s shoes. The organization also seems to know when pitchers have reached their prime and have let them go accordingly. One of the most recent was former Tribe pitcher Corey Kluber, who was traded to the Texas Rangers and was injured in his first outing.
With all the speculation surrounding the 2021 season, one thing is certain. Brad Hand will not be the only player to hang up his Tribe uniform. The fans will have the offseason to await the decisions that may “save” the Tribe from crumbling under more impending player losses.