Coming into the weekend we knew the Braves had a total of five contract options to make a decision on. Out of the five decisions to make, veteran reliever Brad Hand may have been the easiest choice. Today the Braves declined Hand's $7 million mutual option that includes a 500K buyout. If anything Hand can now acclaim that he has played for every team in the NL East.
At last season's trade deadline, Hand was acquired from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Alec Barger. Hand was essentially more bullpen depth and someone the team wanted to lean on against tough left-handed hitters such as Bryce Harper.
Once he arrived in Atlanta, Hand pitched 18 innings to a 7.50 ERA and 4.03 FIP. Despite his poor performance, Hand showed enough flashes late to warrant Atlanta carrying him on the NLDS roster for the sole purpose of getting the Phillies heavy-hitting lefties out.
In the NLDS Hand pitched one inning against the top of the Philadelphia order and gave up a homer to Harper on a hanging slider.
His splits between LHB and RHB are enough to warrant some MLB teams finding a role for him. Against right-handed hitters in 2023, Hand allowed a .317/.386/.575 slash line. Against left-handed batters, Hand allowed a .200/.297/.288 slash line.
His sweeper-sinker combo is a pretty deadly weapon to use against left-handed sluggers. However, because of the three-batter minimum, the lefty specialists of the world are a dying breed.
Brad Hand has had a nice career as a reliever and despite a down year in 2023 he likely won't have much trouble finding work next season. The Braves still have a couple of open spots in their bullpen, and should Hand still be a free agent come February don't be surprised if AA picks up the phone.