Two Of Us
Image courtesy of Jake Roth, USA TodayTwo relievers are believed to be on the market already, playing on teams that are clearly playing for the future. They are relief pitchers who could make the Twins bullpen stronger during the second half.
In addition to their tremendous on-field statistics, these two players are #OneOfUs. Brooklyn Park grad Pat Neshek and Chaska High School alum Brad Hand are having great seasons. On Sunday, both were named to the National League All-Star squads, and not just because their teams had to have one representative. Today we consider why these are guys who could help the Twins, and what it might cost to get them.
DISCLAIMER: I know there is a sentiment among many Twins Daily readers that ‘bringing back the band’ or acquiring guys who are “one of us” is a bad thing. However, I tend to believe that if the player remains good and can help a team win, then it just doesn’t matter. If Pat Neshek and/or Brad Hand can help the Twins win games in 2017, I don’t care if they’re from Minnesota or Texas. Australia or Venezuela. They happen to be from Minnesota.
In the Twins history, we’ve seen both sides of this. Terry Steinbach and Dave Winfield being brought back worked out. Bringing back Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett didn’t pan out. We’ve seen how Twins fans can turn on players when they don’t become what we thought they might, or they didn’t measure up in some way. We’ve seen one of the top five hitters in the organization’s history and a Minnesotan bashed to a crazy, unfair degree, in part because he’s from Minnesota. Imagine the scrutiny Kent Hrbek might have endured had he played during the age of Twitter.
Let’s start with Pat Neshek since he’s got a bit of a double whammy. Not only is he from Minnesota, he was drafted by the Twins in 1999 and 2002, and played in the big leagues for the Twins between 2006 and 2010. He came up and used his funky delivery to dominate hitters immediately. He had Tommy John and missed most of 2008, all of 2009, and most of 2010.
The Twins let him go in the spring of 2011 and he bounced around a bit. He took off again in 2014 with the Cardinals. In fact, that’s the year that he made his first All-Star appearance, ironically in Target Field. He signed a two-year deal with the Astros, with an option for 2017. After he was traded to the Phillies, they picked up his option for this year at $6.5 million. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Neshek will turn 37 in September. This year, he has worked 32.1 innings for the Phillies. He’s struck out 8.2 per nine, a K-rate of 26.1%. He’s walked just 2.1 per nine. He’s given up just two home runs this season.
He has a 1.39 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP. If you enjoy FIP and xFIP, his numbers are 2.41 and 3.59. He has a WAR of 1.1 already this season.
From sidearm, Neshek has thrown 49.7% fastballs with an average velocity of 90.1. He has also thrown 47% sliders at 83.1 mph. He throws a changeup too, but just 3% of the time. 73% of his 491 pitches have been strikes.
The Phillies are 28-55, so there is little reason for them to hold on to a veteran with an expiring contract in the second half.
Likewise, the Padres are just 36-48 at the halfway point of the season. They have three Rule 5 players on their roster and a plan to continue adding more young talent.
Brad Hand was the second-round pick of the Marlins way back in 2008 out of high school. He signed and by June of 2011, he was a 21-year-old in the big leagues. He struggled with the Marlins, particularly as a starter. Last spring, the Marlins DFAd him and he ended up with the Padres. He’s become one of the better, and most used, relievers in baseball.
Last year, he posted a 2.92 ERA over a league-leading 82 games. This year, he’s already pitched in 40 games and has a 2.42 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. He has struck out 11.2 per nine innings while walking just 2.4 per nine. He’s given up less than a home run per nine innings.
His FIP is 2.88, with an xFIP of 2.96. He’s pitched to a WAR of 1.0.
Hand throws 49% fastballs at an average of 93.3 mph. He also throws his slider about 45% of the time, at 82 mph. His third pitch is more of a slow curve ball, which he throws just six percent of the time.
Hand turned 27 in spring training. 2017 was his first year of arbitration and he’s making just shy of $1.4 million. In 2018, he will again be arbitration-eligible for the second time.He’ll have his third and final arbitration in 2019 before having the potential to become a free agent after the 2019 World Series.
WHAT IT MIGHT TAKE
There are reportedly several teams evaluating and considering acquiring Neshek including the Nationals. The belief is that it won’t take a ton to get Neshek, a “low level prospect.” Because there are other teams interested, the price could get raised a bit. I would guess it would take a top 20 prospect.
To acquire Hand, it is likely to cost the Twins (or another team) much more. He’s nearly ten years younger and has two-and-a-half years under a team’s control. There is value in that. There is no other reason for the Padres to trade him, other that they can ask for the world for him and sell very high. He would likely require a top 10 prospect and a second or even a third piece.
Do the Twins have the pieces to make these moves? No question. Do they want to outbid other teams and match the requirements of the teams? That we don’t know.
Would the Twins have any desire to acquire One of Us, maybe even Two of Us?
What would you do? How much (and name names) would you be willing to give up for these two guys?
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