3. Brad Hand
2017 Season: 72 appearances, 79.1 innings, 3-4 record, 2.16 ERA, 21 SV, 5 BLSV, 104 SO, 20 BB
From one closer to another, Brad Hand had a similar path to the closer role as a member of the San Diego Padres. Starting out his professional career as a starting pitcher, Hand transitioned to a full-time relief role with the Padres in 2016 and the rest is history, as the Chaska, MN native has become one of the elite relievers in the game.
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To this point, Hand has spent a majority of his two years in San Diego as a setup man, but after the trade deadline, he found himself in the full-time closer role. A role that fits the 27-year-old given his nasty stuff, including one of the best knee-buckling sliders in baseball. A slider that’s helped him strikeout over 11 batters per nine innings the last two seasons.
Overall, he has 37 holds and 22 saves since 2016 and made his first All-Star game last season. Of course, the Padres have struggled as a whole during that time, finishing 71-91 in 2017. Consequently, Hand was in plenty of trade rumors prior to the July 31 trade deadline, although they couldn’t find a worthwhile deal.
Even so, the Padres are once again looking into trade options for Hand according to MLB.com, making Minnesota a logical trade partner. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN has confirmed the Twins’ interest in the Minnesota native as well. Assuredly, they are interested in making him their closer of the future.
Crazy enough, Hand may be the Twins’ least expensive option at closer in the short-term. With two arbitration years left, the left-hander is only projected to make $3.8 million in 2018. In other words, he’d be quite the bargain if Minnesota can make it happen.