Cleveland Indians: Waiving Brad Hand is as cheap as it gets

CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 14: Brad Hand #33 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning at Progressive Field on July 14, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Twins 4-3. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - JULY 14: Brad Hand #33 of the Cleveland Indians pitches against the Minnesota Twins during the ninth inning at Progressive Field on July 14, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Twins 4-3. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /
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The Cleveland Indians aren’t known as a team that spends a lot of money, but waiving closer Brad Hand is an absurdly cheap move.

The Cleveland Indians are cheap. That’s not exactly news. They’ve made it very clear that they have no intent on giving Francisco Lindor, one of the best shortstops in the game and a Cleveland icon, a fair contract. In fact, I believe the exact quote was along the lines of “We’ll pay Lindor $300 million when other teams are paying guys $1 billion.”

But even I never imagined they’d stoop to the level of waiving a reliever of the year finalist to avoid paying him $10 million.

Per Zack Meisel, the Indians are hoping that another team claims Brad Hand off waivers so they can avoid his $1 million buyout. And that’s likely, since Hand is one of the best relievers in the game. He’s in the upper echelon of the league in both strikeout rate at 33.7%, and walk rate at 4.7%. He’s shown the ability to limit hard contact, with a 32.7% hard hit rate in 2020.

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That’s as good as it gets for the closer role. Limiting baserunners is the best way to limit runs. So why let one of the best relievers walk instead of paying his very reasonable salary?

Well, the 2020 season took a huge financial toll on organizations. Without fans in attendance, teams lost out on an absurd amount of revenue. And a team that penny-pinches as much as the Cleveland Indians was bound to make some ugly financial moves like this.

But waiving Hand is a huge mistake. Even if the Indians are planning their rebuild and unloading assets, straight up waiving Hand makes no sense. He’s an extremely valuable reliever. Why not trade him? Why not get some promising prospects in return for their closer?

Regardless of the insane reasoning behind it, Hand is out in Cleveland. This is the first step in the full Cleveland tear-down. Lindor could very well be wearing a different uniform by the time opening day comes around.

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Hand will get picked up quickly. The Boston Red Sox come to mind, as their bullpen has been in absolute shambles since the departure of Craig Kimbrel. And due to an atrocious 2020 season, they’re high on the waiver claim pecking order.