Phillies To Sign Brad Hand

9:46am: The Phillies and Hand are in agreement on a one-year deal that will guarantee him $6MM, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan. Hand is repped by Jet Sports Management.

9:20am: The Phillies are in talks with free-agent lefty Brad Hand, tweet MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. He’d be the third notable addition to the Phils’ bullpen so far this offseason, joining likely closer Corey Knebel (who signed before the lockout) and righty Jeurys Familiawho agreed to terms on Saturday.

Hand, 32 next week, is a three-time All-Star but is in need of a rebound campaign after struggling through a lackluster showing between the Nationals, Blue Jays and Mets in 2021. Signed by Washington to a one-year, $10.5MM last winter, Hand posted a solid 3.89 ERA with the Nats, albeit with a greatly diminished 23.1% strikeout rate.

Things went awry for Hand following a July trade to the Blue Jays, as the lefty never really found his footing in Toronto. Hand was scored upon in five of his 11 appearances with the Jays, ultimately yielding 10 runs (seven earned) on 13 hits and three walks in just 8 2/3 innings. Hand wound up being designated for assignment in August and claimed by the Mets, where he turned things around to an extent: seven runs (four earned) on a dozen hits and five walks with 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings.

All told, hand’s 2021 season concluded with a respectable 3.90 ERA that was a ways north of the combined 2.70 ERA he logged during a 2016-20 stretch that was punctuated by three All-Star nods. Last year’s 21.9% strikeout rate was far and away his lowest since moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis in 2016, and his 9.4% walk rate was the second worst mark Hand has posted since that conversion to relief work. It wasn’t all bad news for Hand, as his average fastball velocity rebounded to 93.3 mph after dipping to 91.5 mph in 2020; from 2016-19, Hand averaged 93.4 mph on his fastball, so last year’s mark is right in line with Hand’s velocity from his peak performance.

Hand would join the aforementioned Knebel and Familia in occupying a late-inning role in Joe Girardi’s bullpen. He’d also give the Phils a third lefty option alongside fireballing jose alvarado and waiver claim Ryan Sherriff. Right-handers Seranthony Dominguez, Sam Coonrod, Connor Brogdon and Nick Nelson are among the options who could round out the relief corps if a deal to bring Hand into the fold ultimately does come to fruition. The Phillies currently project for a payroll around $200MM, and they’re well south of the new $230MM first tier of luxury-tax penalization.

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