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Padres defend Hand's hefty price tag

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN FRANCISCO -- Reports from around the baseball world have claimed the Padres are asking a steep price for lefty reliever Brad Hand. Steep, but fair, say the Padres.

According to a team source, Hand has commanded the most interest of any Padres trade chip since A.J. Preller took over as general manager in 2014. "Half the league or more" has inquired about Hand, the source said.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Reports from around the baseball world have claimed the Padres are asking a steep price for lefty reliever Brad Hand. Steep, but fair, say the Padres.

According to a team source, Hand has commanded the most interest of any Padres trade chip since A.J. Preller took over as general manager in 2014. "Half the league or more" has inquired about Hand, the source said.

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With so many interested parties, the Padres aren't going to sell Hand, who is under team control through the 2019 season, for cheap. And regardless of what opposing executives say, the Padres feel justified in their requests.

In 44 appearances this season, Hand, who represented the Padres at the 2017 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, has posted a 2.20 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 49 innings. He's established himself as one of the game's most durable and versatile relievers since joining the Padres last April. Hand leads the Major Leagues in appearances (126) during that time, and he's third in relief strikeouts with 173.

A portion of Hand's value undoubtedly derives from last October's bullpen revolution. Like Andrew Miller a season ago, Hand is a team-controlled reliever who can pitch multiple innings and face hitters from both sides of the plate. In that sense, he'd seem to be coveted by just about every contending club.

Preller and manager Andy Green have expressed a base desire to hold onto Hand through the Deadline. Part of that assertion is undoubtedly posturing. The Padres want to give themselves as much leverage as possible.

But Preller has also proven he's willing to stick to his guns. In 2015, he held onto Craig Kimbrel through the Deadline, instead receiving an impressive prospect haul during the offseason.

In any case, multiple reports have recently suggested the Padres are asking for more than opposing teams would be willing to part with. An anonymous executive joked to Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, "I don't think the Dodgers would ask more for [Clayton] Kershaw than A.J. is for Brad Hand."

Multiple people in the Padres organization have refuted that notion. Given the league-wide interest in Hand and the high demand for relief pitching, they feel as though their trade discussions have been perfectly fair.

The Deadline is 10 days away. Time will tell if another team feels the same.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Diego Padres, Brad Hand