Everybody and their mother is convinced the Mariners will spend resources to address their starting rotation. But what if put all their resources into acquiring the best pitcher available this summer?
As you can see from the title, I believe the best pitcher available is San Diego Padres closer Brad Hand. The Mariners already have a good bullpen, so why waste insane resources when the rotation needs the most help? I actually covered the value of the bullpen and why Seattle could be smarter to spend their resources here.
In fact, MLB Network’s Greg Amsinger agrees. On 710 ESPN Seattle’s “Bob, Groz, and Tom” show, Amsinger had this to say about Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto:
"“He (Dipoto) might instead go the Washington Nationals route and just continue to add to the bullpen.That’s what we’ve learned from the postseason – you shorten the game. At the moment, the Mariners have three starters they really like, and if they do get to the postseason, maybe that’s what they do instead.”"
Of course, there are numerous ways the Mariners could achieve that. Perhaps some are even more frugal than adding Brad Hand, who is likely going to be the most expensive reliever on the market.
However, with Kelvin Hererra and Alex Colome going for dirt cheap, perhaps Dipoto can land Hand by making an aggressive offer earlier than other GM’s? But what would an aggressive offer look like? Here is our proposal:
The Seattle Mariners trade Kyle Lewis, Sam Carlson, Dan Altavilla and Juan Querecuto to San Diego for Brad Hand and Michael Gettys.
Yes, that’s a lot of equity to pour into a reliever. But Hand is absolutely worth this package, and possibly more. Since becoming a full-time reliever in 2016, Hand has appeared in 188 games. In those 188 games, he has thrown 206 innings, striking out 269 hitters in that stretch. That’s good for an 11.8 K/9 rate over the past 2 1/2 seasons.
In that same stretch, Hand has posted a 1.02 WHIP, a 2.54 ERA and a 3.13 FIP. His 36.2% K rate is 12th best amongst relievers since 2016. In addition, Hand gives the Mariners a second dominate lefty out of the pen to pair with James Pazos.
In 2018, left-handed hitters have been unable to touch Hand, posting an abysmal .073/.156/.195 slash. However, don’t mistake Hand as a glorified LOOGY. Righties are posting just a .703 OPS against Hand.
Hand just signed a 3 year deal with San Diego in January of this year. He is due just $16.5 million on those 3 years and has a team option worth $10 million for the 2021 season.
Trading for Brad Hand is not a “let’s get into the playoffs” type of move. Instead, acquiring Brad Hand is a “let’s go win playoff series” type of move. Hand would give Seattle their 3rd All-Star closer, and a lethal back of the bullpen that could compete with any other in the game.
The 2018 Seattle Mariners appear to have captured lightning in a bottle, and there is no guarantee they will do it again in 2019. If this could be the “last chance” for this group to be a winner, Jerry Dipoto must act to take advantage. The 2001 Mariners refused to add significant pieces at the deadline and suffered a premature exit as a result.
Adding Brad Hand to Edwin Diaz, Alex Colome, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos gives the Mariners a lethal bullpen that has the potential to turn any game into a 5 inning game, similar to the 2015 Kansas City Royals and 2017 New York Yankees.
Would adding Brad Hand be expensive? Yes. But does he make your team better now and in the future? Also, yes.
Being a GM is all about risk assessment. You have to know to hold them, and know when to fold. Sometimes, you go all in. With this Hand, I’d like to see the Mariners push their chips to the middle of the table. Let’s dream big, and start playing to win in the playoffs, not just get there.