Hand’s Value at Its Peak?

With the July 31 MLB trade deadline looming, several teams have decisions to make on whether to buy or sell. With the Indians, there are only a few components that have fallen in the line of trade talks. However, those few pieces just happen to be key pieces a number of franchises would like to get their hands on. Starting pitcher Trevor Bauer has been the focus of several of those discussions, most commonly associated with the Yankees.

Few teams have the bottomless pockets the Yankees do, plus their stipulation in acquiring Bauer is to have control of the contract beyond 2019. Bauer’s state of affairs depicts exactly that scenario, which is right in New York’s wheelhouse. Plus, Bauer himself, always vocal on social media, has made no secret that Cleveland will not be able to afford him after this year. Farewell, Trevor. My only concern at this point is the starter’s waning quality as he has become unstable at best, serving at times as a run factory for the opposition.

While Bauer will certainly be gone, the question mark that truly hovers over the roster right now casts its shadow on closer Brad Hand. Acquired last year from the Padres as part of the Francisco Mejia deal, Hand has been a rock star through the first half of the 2019 campaign. At the All-Star break, he closed out 23 of 24 saves with the one hiccup coming against an anemic Kansas City batting order. Hey, we’re all human. Even rock stars miss a note now and then.

Hand faced a considerably more fierce string of batters in the All-Star Game this month, barely squeezing his way out of a phone booth of an inning. This begs the question from those with their finger on the panic button; is Brad Hand’s season on the downturn? That inquiry in and of itself is full of speculation, but one thing that is fairly certain is Hand’s market value in the here and now.

Whether fans feel his loss against KC and his struggle in the All-Star Game were minor flubs or signs of something greater, it goes without saying that he has been one of the most successful closers in the game this season and he is all ours in Cleveland. That would be more exciting to say if the rest of the team was doing their part. Since our bats have been completely underwhelming this season, perhaps it is time to deal the closer and build on the offensive side of things for the future.

For those fans who still want to make that push for the playoffs this year, I have two words for you. Be realistic. Do you honestly think this lineup can take down the likes of Houston or New York in the playoffs? Let’s not focus on the Wild Card simply to say we made the playoffs. Instead, let’s make a run actually count for something.

Brad Hand with the 2019 AL All-Stars.

Hand has an impressive 2.17 ERA (at the time of this article). His close ratio will have teams clamoring over each other to call the Indians’ front office to make a deal (if they haven’t already). Do we hang onto him and hope this team’s bats can turn a corner in 2020? That proposes to be a big gamble, but then again so does trading him and hoping what you get in return can do something.

Nevertheless, I am in the camp to make a deal for the talented closer. This season has been completely unimpressive, especially considering the weakness of the division we play in. The Indians are merely a carp in a pond of catfish.

The value Cleveland can get for Brad Hand now will likely never be higher. Pretend this is stocks. You adhere to the old adage of buy low, sell high. Move him while you can, because something tells me this guy won’t have that closer longevity that one would expect. Yes, he’s been in the league a while, but no, he has not reached this level of play until recently. This is not a World Series team. Strip down what pieces you can and build a better future.

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