Brad Hand(Greensboro Grasshoppers), Nationals agree to one-year, $10.5M deal
The Washington Nationals are in agreement on a one-year contract with reliever Brad Hand that guarantees him $10.5M, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of MLB Network (Twitter link) was first to report the sides were closing in on a one-year deal. The contract does not contain any option years or incentives, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (via Twitter).
Hand, 30, has been one of the league’s best relievers over the past five seasons. He broke out with the Padres in 2016 immediately after being claimed off waivers from the Marlins. San Diego traded him to the Indians midway through the 2018 season, where he continued to shine. In two-plus seasons in Cleveland, Hand pitched to a 2.78 ERA over 107 relief innings with a stellar combination of strikeouts (34.8%) and walks (7.9%).
Despite that consistent run of success, the Indians made the decision to decline a $10M option on Hand’s services for 2021 after last season. Before paying Hand a $1M buyout, Cleveland placed him on outright waivers in the hope another club would claim him and exercise the option (thus saving them the cost of the buyout). All thirty teams passed on the opportunity to bring in Hand at that $10MM price point.
In the long run, though, Hand makes out a bit better than he would have had Cleveland (or any other team) simply exercised the option. In addition to picking up the aforementioned buyout money, Hand winds up guaranteed an extra $500K in 2021 salary. Of course, teams have a better understanding of their payroll outlooks now than they did last October. The free agent market, while extremely slow, has also been a bit more favorable than many expected on the heels of a 2020 season without gate revenue.