SAN DIEGO -- All along, the Padres maintained they wouldn't budge from their high asking price for Brad Hand. Evidently, it was never met.
The non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, and Hand, one of the most sought-after relievers on the market, is still a Padre.
Hand, whose ERA has dipped to an even 2.00 with 19 consecutive scoreless outings, is under team control through the 2019 season. But the Padres are taking a significant gamble by holding on to him at what many consider the peak of his trade value. The 27-year-old lefty likely will remain a candidate to be dealt in the offseason.
General manager A.J. Preller did not make any other moves on Monday, leaving their six-player swap with Kansas City last week as their only significant Deadline deal. Right-handed starter Jhoulys Chacin, who was also on the market, remains in San Diego as well and will start Tuesday night vs. Minnesota.
"There were moments in the last 24 hours or so where I thought there was a chance we were going to line up with somebody on a couple different deals," said Padres general manager A.J. Preller. "With Brad specifically, he's a guy that we're excited to have as part of our bullpen. He's a guy that when you look to win ballgames, you need elite relievers, guys who can fill different roles and get big outs. When you look at a player that we have control over for the next 2 1/2 years, there was no rush for us to reach out and do anything."
Preller said he received more phone calls regarding Hand than he had with any other player during his three-year tenure as Padres general manager. He noted that four or five clubs were "at the final table," working to make a deal in the final hours before Monday's 1 p.m. PT Deadline.
No deal came, and Preller acknowledged the inherent risks that come along with such a decision. An injury or performance decline over the next couple months would put no small dent in Hand's value. Plus, inquiring teams would be able to use Hand for two pennant races, rather than three.
"We weighed that all in when we made decisions," Preller said. "Ultimately, we didn't get anything in the last couple weeks that got over that line."
There's some precedent for Preller's decision to hang on to a reliever at the Deadline. In 2015, he chose to stick with Craig Kimbrel, ultimately swapping him for four prospects in the offseason. (Two of those prospects, Manuel Margot and Carlos Asuaje are now everyday contributors.)
Preller was quick to dismiss the notion that the trades were similar. Kimbrel, he said, was always likely to be dealt that offseason, as the start of the Padres' rebuild. Meanwhile, at 27, Hand could have a place in the Padres' future.
"In the Kimbrel situation, we didn't make the move, then we got to the offseason, and he was clearly a starting point for us to shift directions and go a different way," Preller said. "Here, with Brad, there's still a lot of things we can do. He's a guy that fits both in the short term and in the medium and long term."
Hand has been nothing short of dominant since early June. He hasn't allowed a run in 19 straight appearances, and he has struck out 70 hitters over 54 innings this season.
He's perfectly content to remain in San Diego, too, where his career has seen a drastic turnaround since he was claimed off waivers from Miami last April.
"They see me as a part of their future plans here," Hand said Sunday. "I like the team here, I like the coaches, I like everything about it. It's a good spot to be."
The Chacin situation is different, as his contract will run out at the end of the season. Despite his 4.22 ERA, he's been much better lately, having posted a 2.77 mark since the start of June. The Padres have won each of his past five starts.
Preller noted that Chacin is a candidate to be moved via a waiver deal in August. He's also open to re-signing Chacin for the 2018 season.
"We just didn't feel like we got anything of value in order to make a deal," Preller said of Chacin. "I know it's easy for somebody to say, 'Well, he's a free agent at the end of the year, just take anything.' We're not looking at it that way. We've built our system up to the point where just to take a non-prospect for the purpose of making a trade, we weren't interested in doing that. Jhoulys has thrown really well. We're happy with him making starts for us."