During the Winter Meetings, the San Diego Padres changed their team drastically, trading for infielders Chase Headley and Freddy Galvis as well as pitcher Bryan Mitchell among others. But since then, the Padres have stayed quiet outside of signing pitcher Jordan Lyles.
Of course, San Diego is still hot on Eric Hosmer’s tail and a deal between the two could happen any day. However for now, it’s important to note that while the Hot Stove remains quiet, the Padres’ roster is going to look much different come Opening Day. Between free agency and trades, San Diego is going to do everything they can to improve their 2018 roster while not sacrificing too much of the future.
One area of the roster that can see major changes is relief pitcher. Currently the bullpen is spearheaded by lefty closer Brad Hand. Depending on which way the Padres choose to lean, the bullpen could either be torn down, or be an area of strength.
Hand is one of the best closers and arguably the best left-handed pitcher in all of baseball. Over the past two seasons, Hand has appeared in 154 games racking up a 2.56 ERA with 22 saves and a 215/56 K/BB ratio. He was voted to the 2016 MLB All-Star Game.
Hand has been one of the most talked about trade pieces over the past year, however the Padres have been reluctant to move him. With the team now looking to build towards contention there’s a chance they hold on to him and have him anchor the bullpen for years to come.
However if the Padres were to move him, they would receive quite the bounty of prospects , adding to an already impressive farm system. Even with the team moving towards contention, the Padres are built for 2019 and beyond, perhaps it’s better to keep rebuilding.
Whatever A.J. Preller and company decide to do is yet to be seen. If the Padres were to move him, arguably every team in the league could be interested. For now it’s just been a guessing game for who could/would land the All-Star reliever.
Luckily Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was able to shed a bit of light on the topic. In his newest Inside Baseball article, Heyman wrote that the Toronto Blue Jays have, “talked to the Padres about relievers, including Hand.”
The Blue Jays would be an interesting fit for Hand as they already have Roberto Osuna as their closer. There have also been reports of Toronto attempting to rebuild with Josh Donaldson a year away from free agency and the Yankees looking like AL East favorites.
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Of course perhaps the Blue Jays could be interested in Hand as a setup man to Osuna or some of the Padres other relievers. Toronto would have one of the best 1-2 punches in the league in Hand and Osuna. However it would be an interesting move by Toronto to make such a major move for a setup man, even someone with Hand’s talent, when a player like Donaldson hits free agency next season.
If the Blue Jays are serious about landing Hand, they would likely have to move one of their top prospects to land him. Currently the team has three prospects inside the top 100 according to MLB Pipeline.
It seems unlikely that they would move Vlad Guerrero Jr. (4th) or Bo Bichette (26th), leaving Anthony Alford (44th) as the only possibility. Pipeline had this to say about Alford:
"Alford generates good bat speed and makes a lot of hard contact from the right side of the plate, although his setup and the placement of his hands lead to some timing issues, as well as some swing-and-miss. He has the strength and swing plane to drive the ball out of the park and shows good raw power to center field, and scouts believe he’ll clear more fences as he continues to refine his approach. Although Alford’s knee injury diminished his speed last season, he’s still a well-above-average runner, capable of impacting games on the bases as well as in center field, where he has plus range but a below-average arm."
While Alford seems like a fine prospect, it would likely come down to what prospects the Blue Jays put around him. It’d also be interested to see if the Padres would even accept Alford as the headliner as they already have plenty of outfield prospects.
Overall, the Blue Jays seem like an interesting fit for Hand. Perhaps they have plans of constructing a super bullpen in an effort to combat the Yankees’ home run hitting lineup.
Perhaps the two teams talks have revolved around other relivers with Hand’s name popping up. There’s a chance that this potential deal isn’t as major as it seems.
However Brad Hand remains one of the best relievers on the market. If made available plenty of teams will be showing interest. While the fit may be questionable, it seems like the Toronto Blue Jays are one of the team’s vying for the services of the All-Star closer.