With teams having incurred significant monetary losses during the pandemic-shortened 2020 MLB season, the expectation has been that the offseason could feature a slow-moving market and cost-cutting moves from teams looking to save money. On Thursday, one of those moves happened.
The Cleveland Indians, clearly in money-saving mode, placed reliever Brad Hand on outright waivers with the intention of declining his $10 million option for the 2021 season if he goes unclaimed, Zack Meisel of The Athletic reported.
Hand, 30, has been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball since 2016, posting a 2.70 ERA (2.92 FIP) and 1.06 WHIP while striking out 12.2 batters per 9 and saving 104 games in 320 IP.
In 2020, Hand a 2.05 ERA (1.37 FIP) and 0.77 WHIP while striking out 29 batters in 22 IP.
For the Mets, with prospective new owner Steve Cohen potentially taking over in the coming days, they could be uniquely set up to scoop up a player such as hand and/or take advantage of what could be a buyer's market.
Most of the teams ahead of the Mets when it comes to waiver claim order (such as the Pittsburgh Pirates, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, and Baltimore Orioles) do not seem like fits for a closer making $10 million in the final season of his contract.
The Boston Red Sox, who finished 24-36 and will have an opportunity to claim Hand before the Mets if he gets that far, could be a threat if they don't view the 2021 season as a rebuild.
If Hand gets to the Mets unclaimed, though, they should pounce.
And if Hand goes unclaimed and reaches free agency, the Mets should be very interested.
The Mets' starting rotation is in a greater state of disarray than their bullpen, with Edwin Diaz coming off a dominant season and Seth Lugo potentially moving back there from the rotation. But adding a reliever like Hand would be a huge boon for a bullpen very much in need of another dominant back-end arm.