Brad Hand joined the Atlanta Braves bullpen at the trade deadline of the 2023 season. The Braves declined his option for 2024, so he will not be returning to Atlanta. Let’s review his short stint with Atlanta.
Acquired from Colorado for minor league pitcher, Alec Barger, Hand was a low-risk trade option for the Braves who needed a left-handed reliever. Atlanta expected Hand to help through his experience in high-leverage situations and specialize in getting left-handed batters out. This was far from the reality.
When Hand was dealt to Atlanta, he had amassed an ERA of 4.54 through 35.2 innings which was his worst ERA in 7 seasons since moving to the bullpen. However, his appeal was the success against left-handed bats. Lefty bats were only slashing 143/.276/.204 with 20 strikeouts in 59 plate appearances at the time.
Unfortunately for Atlanta, Hand only made 20 appearances after being traded. He had a 2-2 record with a 7.50 ERA across his 18 innings of work. He surrendered 19 hits and 15 earned runs in an Atlanta jersey and walked 6 batters while striking out 18.
Over 32% of the batted balls against Hand with Atlanta were line drives. Only 30% were ground balls and about 19% were fly balls. That tells us that when facing opponents, he wasn't very effective for the Braves.
By putting on a Braves uniform, Hand became the first player ever to don a jersey for every team in the National League East division. After the 2023 season, it appears that he will be on the move, yet again.
We can acknowledge that Brad Hand has had a successful career making three all-star appearances. However, his abbreviated tenure with the Atlanta Braves organization was nothing to write home about and something that fans would prefer to forget.
With Atlanta declining his option for the 2024 season, Alex Anthopoulos and company feel that they have better left-handed itching options available such as Tyler Matzek, who is expected back in 2024.
Removing Hand from the organization may not free up a ton of money for the Braves in 2024 but it does create a vacant roster spot that Anthopoulos could fill with more consistent bullpen help. After all, AA has said himself that payroll will increase next season.