The Toronto Blue Jays have acquired LHP Brad Hand from the Washington Nationals in exchange for catcher Riley Adams.
Reports have indicated that the only Washington player who will not be open to be traded is outfielder Juan Soto. Pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner are among the list of players who are rumored to be on the market. Hand is now the first domino to fall. The Nationals signed the southpaw to a one year, $10.5 million deal with deferred money this offseason so he could be their closer. Hand does have 16 saves but has overall been a disappointment. His strikeout rate is 23.1 percent, marking the first time since he was moved to the bullpen in 2016 that it was under 30. His walk rate is up and his xERA is 4.49. It is best for the Nationals to move on. In return, they get Adams, who MLB Pipeline ranked as Toronto’s 17th best prospect. The 2017 third-round pick out of San Diego made his MLB debut this year but went 3-for-28 over 12 games. He is a big catcher with good on-base and power skills.
Adams, 25, has hit seven home runs with a .371 OBP and an .858 OPS in 143 Plate Appearances for AAA Buffalo this year. In his minor league career, Adams has hit 28 home runs with a .363 OBP and a .783 OPS in 1194 Plate Appearances.
The Blue Jays’ biggest issue this year has obviously been pitching. They have one of the league’s best lineups but an awful staff. This trade covers at least part of their bullpen solution but now they need a starter. Hand is still a good pitcher but there are many concerns with him. His walk rate is up while his strikeout rate is down. His main pitch is his slider, which is a good pitch. However, the slider’s whiff rate is down 13 percent from last year. Hand does have an increased fastball velocity in 2021 and his H/9 is a very good 6.5. He makes their bullpen better but has not been the pitcher he once was.
Hand, 31, has a 3.59 ERA with 42 strikeouts, a 4.33 FIP, and a 1.148 WHIP in 42.2 innings for Washington this year. In his MLB career for the Nationals, Cleveland Indians, Miami Marlins, and San Diego Padres, Hand has a 3.65 ERA with 666 strikeouts, a 3.73 FIP and a 1.230 WHIP in 651.1 innings.