12:35 p.m: right-handed Tyler Kinley placed on 60-day injured list to make room for Hand, reports MLB.com’s Thomas Harding (Twitter link). Kinley is expected to be out of action until at least mid-season after undergoing elbow surgery last June.
11:48 a.m: The Rockies have agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with Reliever brad handreports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (above Twitter connections). The guaranteed money breaks down into $1.5 million in salary in 2023 and then a $500,000 buyout of a $7 million club option that the Rockies hold for the services by hand for the 2024 season. Another $1 million bonus is available for Hand if he’s still in the organization by opening day, with Rosenthal noting that means either on the active list or on the injured list. Hand will turn 33 later this month and will be represented by the Wasserman Agency.
Once Hand shows up in the purple pinstripes in an official game, there will be 13 MLB seasons and eight different teams for the veteran southpaw. Hand inked $6 million a year with the Phillies last winter and contributed to the Phils’ push to the NL pennant by posting a 2.80 ERA over 45 regular-season innings and then a 4.76 ERA in 5 Delivered 2/3 postseason frames. This small sample size of playoff work was perhaps more reflective of the overall quality of Hand in 2022 as he had a 4.51 SIERA and a 4.90 xFIP and his .297 wOBA was well below his .323 xwOBA. Hand did a very good job of limiting hard contact last year, but with below average strikeout and walk rates.
All in all, Hands’ advanced 2022 metrics weren’t far off — or in some cases worse — than his 2021 metrics, though he was much luckier with that 2.80 ERA than his 3.90 mark at Nationals, Mets, and Blue Jays in 2021. (MLBTR’s Darragh McDonald recently delved deeper into Hand’s performance in 2022.) Hand was also a lot better at keeping the ball in the park with the Phillies — he was just allowing last year two home runs in his 45 frames. after giving up nine long balls over 64 2/3 innings in 2021.
Of course, the soft contact and ability to keep the ball in the park is interesting for a team playing at Coors Field, and the Rockies acquired Hand after a relatively quiet offseason in terms of publicly known interest. The Cubs and Twins have both been linked to Hand for the past month, although the left-handed relief pitching market has generally been fairly slow after an initial flurry ahead of Christmas. Only in the last few weeks, as names say, has the ice started to thaw Andrew Chafin, Matt Mooreand (just earlier today) Will Smith have now fallen off the board.
Speaking of the quiet off-season, the Rockies haven’t garnered much attention this winter, much to the dismay of fans who watched the club lose 94 games in 2022. Colorado has done quite a bit of work, at least in the bullpen. as hand connects such names as Pierce Johnson, Nick Mearsand other left-handers Brent Suter And Ty Blach And Fernando Abad. With Blach and Abad both minor league signings, Hands Deal could sideline one or both of those other lefties from consideration for a spot on the opening day list.
The club option also gives Colorado some control over Hand’s future if he fully regains his former form. Hand was one of the better helpers in the sport when he fielded with San Diego and Cleveland from 2016-20, and of course the Rockies saw him often in his Padres days. Since Johnson, Suter and Dinelson Lamet All slated for free agency after the 2023 season, the Rockies could keep at least one pitcher in the group by exercising Hand’s option if he pitches well enough to make that $6.5 million decision for the Rox meet.