Nearly everyone in Cleveland does not like Brad Hand in the closer role. I thought Cody Allen was tough to watch as a closer, but Hand has blown that out of the water.
He is like a poor man’s Andrew Miller, or basically like Andrew Miller once he went to St. Louis. His velocity is too low for him to throw fastballs down the middle of the plate, his slider is no longer that deceptive and he nearly always allows the tying or winning runs to come to the plate with multi-run leads.
Fans across Northeast Ohio are clamouring for James Karinchak to take over, and I think the best place to send Hand is Southwest Ohio.
Although Brad Hand’s ERA does not look that great at 7.71, it should be noted that he has a whopping 21.60 ERA against the White Sox alone. He has only given up runs to the White Sox. In his other games, against the Reds and Royals, he has pitched three hitless innings while striking out five.
Maybe he just needs a change of scenery away from the White Sox, but the Indians play Chicago again at the end of the season, and they cannot afford to turn over a close game that late in the season to Hand.
Plus, Hand’s contract includes a team option for 2021 with a $1 million buyout, so it was probably just a matter of time before the Indians tried to trade him away.
For the Reds, they must hope that Hand’s effectiveness against non-White Sox hitters translates to the National League because they currently employ one of the worst bullpens in the majors. Their starters have been great, but their bullpen has already blown four saves, and this issue will not be fixed for next year when we hopefully go back to a much longer schedule.
In fact, we saw firsthand at how atrocious their bullpen can be when the Indians took three of four from the Reds last week. $10 million for a good reliever can be considered a bargain in today’s market, and when at his best, Brad Hand can be a dominant closer.
The Reds have spent too much money this offseason for them to continue to be non-competitive in a stacked NL Central for this year and for the years to come.
The Reds and Indians have been excellent trade partners in recent years, with deadline deals involving Shin-Soo Choo, Jay Bruce and Trevor Bauer coming to mind. Why not make another deal that helps both parties?
The Reds get at least the rest of the year of Hand and can decide from there if he is a keeper. If he performs, the Reds can be confident in exercising his team option for next year. If not, then the gamble only cost them the remainder of his 2020 salary, a $1 million buyout for next year and their 29th ranked prospect according to MLB.com.
For the Indians, they get to dump off an expiring asset for a similarly low-cost gamble in Joe Boyle.
Boyle scrapes into the Reds top-30 prospects according to MLB.com, but he has the potential to be a powerhouse back-end bullpen type pitcher. MLB.com rated the 6-foot-7 right-hander’s fastball an 80/80, since it can top out at 102 MPH and has great rising movement. The only issue with Boyle is he is very much a one-trick pony; his second-best pitch, his slider, is a middling 55/80, and his control is currently ranked 40/80 on the 20 to 80 prospect scale.
His control issues are the primary reason he is only a 40/80 graded prospect now, but his mid-80’s slider has enough bite to it that it can become a dependable strikeout pitch, and he’ll be in one of, if not the best, minor league system for developing pitchers.
Pitchers that are raised in the Tribe Minor League system always seem to be great contributors, and Boyle has the physical tools to become another Indians pitching success story.
Zach Boscarello is a guest writer at Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @SirZachTB