Brad Hand, one of the top remaining free-agent targets for the New York Mets, is off the board; the star left-handed reliever taking a one-year, $10.5 million deal with the Washington Nationals on Sunday night.
At the surface, it’s another sizable miss for the Mets having lost out on center fielder George Springer last week during a tumultuous stretch that included the firing of their general manager, Jared Porter, just 37 days after he was hired.
However, the general consensus around the industry suggests that the Mets had a better financial offer on the table than the Nationals — including a two-year deal — but Hand wanted to close games and the Mets couldn’t guarantee that role.
Hand is now betting on himself for one year and will hit the free-agent market again at the end of the 2021 season.
For the Mets, they are still without that bona fide southpaw reliever within a bullpen filled entirely of right-handers. They’re also without a natural center fielder to alleviate the everyday defensive pressures from Brandon Nimmo — normally a left fielder.
It appears the remainder of their offseason plans revolve around reported interest in starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, whose social-media receipts are creating controversy about whether or not the Mets should make a push for him, especially after the Porter fiasco where it was discovered he sent lewd and explicit text messages to a female reporter in 2016 while working with the Chicago Cubs.
Should the Mets go after him, an average annual value of anywhere between $25 million and $30 million would sap a majority, if not all of, their remaining resources under Major League Baseball’s luxury tax threshold. While the exact number is unknown, recent estimates tab the Mets at anywhere between $20 million and $30 million.
If that number is on the higher side, the Mets could ink Bauer to a short-term deal and use the remaining dollars to try and acquire help in center field, like Jackie Bradley Jr. or Albert Almora.
Bauer would assume the No. 2 role in the rotation behind Jacob deGrom with Carlos Carrasco, Marcus Stroman, and David Peterson rounding things out until Noah Syndergaard returns in June or July.
Peterson, a lefty, could then be used as a potential bullpen option alongside other southpaws in Steven Matz and Joey Lucchesi.
If the Mets either pass or lose out on Bauer, the remaining money can then be spread out to address the last positions of need.