It is no secret that the Houston Astros need relief help. Would a trade for San Diego Padres’ closer Brad Hand solve the current bullpen issues for the defending World Champions?
The 2018 trade season is in full swing. Manny Machado rumors are swirling. The Baltimore Orioles’ infielder will be dealt very soon. There is no doubt about that. The Orioles have to cash in now or forever hold their peace.
Brad Hand. Now that is another story.
The San Diego Padres certainly do not have to deal their all-star closer. He is signed for the following two seasons (with a third year team option) and is throwing the ball very well. The team hopes to compete next season with an eye on 2020 as a real growth year. Hand is under contract for both those seasons and at a reasonable price ($14.6 million). He also has that $10 million dollar option for 2021 which is affordable. Unlike the pending free agent Machado, there is no urgency to deal Brad Hand.
Since the Padres are not in a hurry to move the closer they have been mysterious in their intentions. They may not deal Hand, but that doesn’t mean they are not fielding calls and entertaining offers. The Friars have a farm system that is currently overloaded with talent. If they can get upper echelon young players and prospects in a trade, then they could certainly be tempted to move Hand.
Enter the Houston Astros who are having real relief issues. Former closer Ken Giles was recently removed from game by manager AJ Hinch. As the reliever walked off the mound he cursed out his manager and it was caught on camera. Not a good thing. Hector Rondon has closed some games out for the team recently, but he blew a save on Tuesday. He is not a long-term answer at the position. The team needs help and especially from the left hand side where they lack quality pitchers in the bullpen.
The Astros have a very nice farm system highlighted by three players in the top 100 prospect list according to MLB pipeline.
Kyle Tucker (#8 overall), Forrest Whitley (#9), and Yordan Alvarez (#51) are all promising young studs. At this point, the Astros will not deal Tucker or Whitley. That would be like asking the Padres about MacKenzie Gore or Fernando Tatis Jr. It would take far more than Brad Hand to pry either of those two from Houston. Let’s not kid ourselves.
Alvarez on the other hand is an interesting option for the Friars. The power hitting outfielder/first baseman just turned 21 and tore up the Texas League this season to the tune of a .325/.389/.615 batting line with 12 homers in 43 games. He was promoted to Triple-A this week, which is very impressive for the Cuban national.
Yordan Alvarez is really developing into a slugger who uses the whole field. He has plus bat speed from the left side of the box and a very quick, compact stroke. At 6-foot-5 and 225 lbs, he has great size and will only get bigger and stronger in time. He could be a special player. Defensively, the right handed thrower has played mostly left field and first base. He has decent range and speed for his size, but lacks overall arm strength. He may end up solely at first in the future if he cannot improve his outfield skills.
At this point, Alvarez would only add to a crowded corner outfield spot for the Padres. He has a very high ceiling, but we have yet seen him against upper echelon pitching. The Astros may be intrigued by an offer centered around these two (Hand and Alvarez), but it is still not a deal perfect for each team.
In the end, there would probably have to be players included in a potential deal. That is where things get tricky. Adding lower tiered players that are young can be dangerous, especially if the Padres are the ones including prospects to get a deal done. Theses two sides have a decent base to get a potential deal done. The Padres are going to hold out for the best possible offer and the Astros can certainly make a strong run. Alvarez is an interesting option, but do the Padres covet him and are the Astros willing to part with the talented player? Less than three weeks left before the trade deadline. Only time will tell. The hot stove is certainly heating up. The Padres will be active. But we have no idea to what degree.