DENVER -- A fortnight ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, conventional wisdom says Padres reliever Brad Hand will be on the move before July 31.Speaking with MLB.com, however, Padres general manager A.J. Preller pumped the brakes a bit on that notion. Yes, he's fielding calls from clubs looking to acquire
DENVER -- A fortnight ahead of the non-waiver Trade Deadline, conventional wisdom says Padres reliever Brad Hand will be on the move before July 31.
Speaking with MLB.com, however, Padres general manager A.J. Preller pumped the brakes a bit on that notion. Yes, he's fielding calls from clubs looking to acquire Hand. But if the asking price isn't met, Hand could remain a Padre through 2017 -- and possibly beyond.
"Hopefully we're able to put a contending team on the field here in the near future, and Brad could be a big part of that," Preller said. "You need impact relievers. You definitely need impact left-handed relievers, and he's clearly one of them. We're going to listen [to offers]."
Hand is undoubtedly the Padres' most appealing trade chip, having posted a 2.25 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 48 innings this season. He might be the best reliever available this month.
But Hand is under team control for 2 1/2 years. And -- whether it's posturing or not -- the Padres say it's a distinct possibility they hang onto him.
"Personally, I hope he's in a Padres uniform," said manager Andy Green. "Why wouldn't I? I want him pitching for us the rest of the year and years to come. ... He's a guy that could be with us for a long time. I don't think we're pressed to make a move. We're excited that he's in our bullpen."
To Hand's credit, he's blocked out the trade chatter quite nicely. Entering Monday's series opener against the Rockies at Coors Field, Hand hadn't allowed a run in 11 innings over the past month, striking out 14 while walking just one.
"It's just my personality [to ignore the rumors]," Hand said. "What's the point of getting involved in something you can't do anything about? I just try not to worry about it and worry about my job here."
Right now, it appears Preller and Co. have three possible routes to take with Hand:
1. Trade Hand before the Deadline
Despite Preller's insistence that Hand could play a pivotal part in the Padres' future, this still seems the likeliest scenario. Hand's trade value probably won't get much higher than it is now. And for 2 1/2 years of his services, Hand could command an impressive return.
2. Trade Hand during the offseason
This is the much riskier play. If Hand continues his dominance for the remainder of the season, his trade value might go up slightly. There also might be a few more bidders in November. But the risk far outweighs the reward. That said, this isn't Justin Upton circa 2015, and Hand could certainly fetch a return at a later date.
3. Keep Hand for 2018
Hand, by the way, is perfectly content to stay in San Diego.
"It's a good group of guys, a young team," he said. "We're really starting to see these young guys get better, going into the second half, and I think the future's bright here."
Added Preller: "We're trying to be competitive. This is not about looking five years from now. You want to have a short- and a long-term plan. We've acquired bullpen pieces that we have multiple years of control with and we can take multiple runs with. This year, we may not end up being a postseason team. But we're expecting that at some point in the near term we'll have that. It's important we have these guys under control."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.