Sandy Alderson finally got the reliever he always wanted this season, as the Mets signed Brad Hand on Thursday afternoon.
Alderson, who is taking over for acting general manager Zack Scott after the Mets placed him on administrative leave following his DWI arrest Tuesday morning, had expressed interest in signing Hand during the offseason following the 2020 campaign.
The 31-year-old lefty posted a 2.05 ERA in 23 outings last year with a league-leading 16 saves with the Cleveland Indians, continuing his trend of dominance as a late-inning reliever. In five years spanning from 2016-2020, Hand posted a 2.70 ERA, a WHIP of 1.066, and 434 strikeouts in just 320 innings pitched.
But the Mets lost out on Hand’s signature to the Washington Nationals over the winter in what was considered an extra blow to see him walk to a division rival. Hand, however, could not find his stuff in the nation’s capital with an ERA that ballooned to 3.59 to go with 21 saves over 52 appearances.
With Washington going nowhere, they dealt him to the Toronto Blue Jays where things didn’t get much better. He allowed 10 runs (seven earned) in 11 outings north of the border for a 7.27 ERA, prompting the Blue Jays to designate him for assignment.
Hand is expected to join the big-league roster where he could potentially provide another late-inning, left-handed option besides Aaron Loup, who has been masterful this season. But because he was signed after Aug. 31, he would not be allowed to compete in the postseason should the Mets defy the odds and make it.
Entering Thursday night’s action, they were five games out of first place in the National League East.
The final month of the season could be viewed as a potential tryout for Hand with the Mets. The southpaw is a free agent once again at the end of the season and a strong finish in Queens would only help his stock after failing to live up to his one-year, $10.5 million deal.
In a corresponding move to fit Hand on the roster, the Mets designated pitcher Geoff Hartlieb for assignment.