After sitting idly by, Washington is shipping out closer Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays.
After speculation that the Nationals were going to be sellers at this year’s deadline, they finally made their move. Earlier today it was reported that the Nationals are trading closer Brad Hand to the Toronto Blue Jays for catching prospect, Riley Adams.
Only 25, Adams has spent the majority of this season at Triple-A hitting .239, with seven homers, 17 RBIs, and an OPS of .858. He also made his MLB debut this season, hitting .101, with an OPS of .345. In MLB Pipeline’s scouting report of the young catcher they stated,
"“Adams has a rare physical profile for a catcher at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, which led many to question his long-term future behind the plate coming out of the Draft. He’s made strides in that area recently and has a strong arm, but there’s room to improve with his receiving. Adams’ IQ and game management are the primary reasons the Blue Jays believe he’ll stick behind the plate. The power tool is what’s so appealing about Adams, though, with one of the very best in the organization.”“Given his ability to handle the position and hit for legitimate power, it’s easy to envision Adams sticking at the Major League level as a power-hitting backup, but there’s room for him to grow into a more consistent role and he hasn’t yet hit the ceiling of his development”"
For Brad Hand, this ends a short stint in where he had some impressive highs and terrible lows. At his best, Hand was lights out, recording 21 saves in 26 opportunities. But when he was off, no lead was safe. Most recently he blew a two-run lead in the ninth to the Phillies which ended with a walk-off bomb by Andrew McCutchen.
Something to keep an eye on is Washington decided against eating any of Hand’s remaining contract in order to get a better return. The Nationals need to restock the farm, but this hampers that.
Hand was the first domino to fall, with Max Scherzer, Yan Gomes, Alex Avila, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, Daniel Hudson all on expiring contracts and could be of interest to contenders. The Scherzer market is likely to pick up soon, as he is the best starting pitcher available. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently reported that the Dodgers were interested in both Hudson and Scherzer.
With Adams in hand, a market for Gomes or Avila could start heating up, but keep in mind that Avila was recently placed on the Nats COVID list. Gomes is by far the more attractive player, hitting .266, with eight homers, 33 RBIs, and an OPS of .760. He was just activated off of the IL today and is tied for second in the majors for runners caught stealing with 16.
Expect Mike Rizzo and the Nationals to be busy from now till the deadline tomorrow at 4 pm ET.