The Nationals have known all winter they needed an experienced left-hander for their bullpen, someone who could be counted upon to get big outs late in games. They’re going to wind up getting the best one available.
The Nats are in agreement with veteran reliever Brad Hand on a one-year deal worth $10.5 million, pending a physical, a source familiar with the signing confirmed.
Once the deal becomes official, the Nationals will have added one of baseball’s best lefty relievers over the last five seasons to a bullpen that also has three late-inning right-handers returning in Daniel Hudson, Tanner Rainey and Will Harris.
Hand’s track record of consistent dominance is significant. A failed starter with the Marlins earlier in his career, he was picked up off waivers in 2016 by the Padres, who converted him to the bullpen and immediately saw positive results. Since becoming a full-time reliever, he owns a 2.70 ERA, 1.066 WHIP and 104 saves over 306 appearances. Lefties have hit .150 off him, righties have hit .226.
Hand spent the last three seasons with the Indians, recording 34 saves in 2019 and a league-best 16 saves during the shortened 2020 campaign. But Cleveland opted not to pick up his $10 million option for 2021 and placed him on waivers in late October, hoping another club might claim him at that price. None did, so the Indians wound up paying him a $1 million buyout,…