The San Diego Padres have been playing much better baseball over the past two months with a record of 22 wins and 18 losses in their last 40 games, but they still find themselves completely out of the playoff picture and figure to be sellers at the trade deadline in two weeks, and the player who has received the most interest from opposing teams is one of the best lefty relievers in the game: Brad Hand.
Hand – the only representative of the Padres during last Tuesday’s All Star game in Miami – has had yet another stellar season to back up last year’s performance after the Padres claimed him and he became their 7th inning specialist. Hand appeared in 82 games last season and had a very impressive 2.92 ERA with 111 strikeouts. This year, Hand has been bumped one inning over last year’s 8th inning reliever Ryan Buchter, and has responded with even better numbers: 2.25 ERA and 61 strikeouts over 43 appearances on the mound so far.
Hand was impressive during his first All Star game, facing three quality hitters and retiring the side in order: Gary Sanchez, Avisail Garcia, and ending with an exclamation point striking out Robinson Cano. Naturally, it has been reported that at least 15 teams have called Padres GM A.J. Preller inquiring about Hand’s availability. Most of these teams are clubs that figure to be in the playoff bubble and want to make a run at the playoffs, or already contenders who want to solidify the back of their bullpen.
In my opinion, the Padres should hold onto Brad Hand. He is not an expensive reliever and is only 27, so he is just scratching the surface of what he could become as a late-inning reliever and with a young core of Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, and Austin Hedges – who are all expected to start establishing themselves next season – along with franchise cornerstone Wil Myers, the team does not want to look back at this trade in a couple of years and wish they still had a reliable option for the 7th or 8th inning, but they traded him for another prospect who probably will not see the major league roster for the next five years.
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