If possible, the Braves should make a run at Brad Hand

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In a somewhat stunning move, the Indians outrighted reliever Brad Hand to waivers just hours ago. This move shows what Cleveland’s plan is this offseason — continue to shed payroll, which could include trading superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor. We’ve already seen some outlets talk about the Braves as potential suitors for Lindor.

I don’t think that’s a very likely possibility at all, especially with Dansby Swanson breaking out this past season. However, Hand is a name the Braves should be very interested in.

Atlanta could use another veteran starting pitcher, but with Mike Soroka coming back, I don’t think adding a high-priced arm is a necessity. What I do think they must do is continue to improve the bullpen. With Mark Melancon and Shane Greene set to hit free agency, it’s very likely that they lose at least one of them, but that would sting a lot less if they were able to add a top-flight closer like Brad Hand.

There wasn’t an All-Star game this past season, but Hand probably would have been a part of it if there were. He posted a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings and was a perfect 16 for 16 in save opportunities. However, Hand did make the All-Star game the three years before that, posting a 2.67 ERA over 208.2 innings with 87 saves. He has been one of the premier relievers in baseball for a while and would sure up the Braves closer situation in 2021, pushing everyone up an inning. Will Smith, Mark Melancon, and Brad Hand in the 7th, 8th, and 9th? Sign me up.

The biggest obstacle with this move will be the waiver wire. Hand is entering the final year of his contract, in which he will be owed $10 million. Nearly every team in the majors will have an opportunity to sign him before Atlanta, and you have to think an organization like Philadelphia, whose bullpen was the only thing that held them back last season, would love to add him on a one-year deal. However, their focus could be elsewhere, with JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorious hitting the open market.

We will have to see how it shakes out. Most teams that aren’t contending probably won’t be interested in spending, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus going forward and the revenue loss from this past season. So if somehow Hand is still available for the Braves to make a claim, it should be a no-brainer for Alex Anthopoulos.

Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire

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