The Chicago Cubs have done a really nice job getting the most out of veteran relievers they have brought in on cheaper deals. Examples of that recent success include the likes of Ryan Tepera, David Robertson, Jesse Chavez, Mychal Givens and Jeremy Jeffress.
While the Cubs will likely see a sizable chunk of the 2023 bullpen be made up of guys already within the organization, they will certainly want to add some veterans to the mix. The reliever free agent class is not spectacular this winter, but there are some names that could help them that won’t necessarily cost too much.
3 under the radar bullpen options for the Cubs: #3 – Brad Hand
A three-time All Star, Brad Hand spent 2022 with the NL pennant-winning Philadelphia Phillies. The basic numbers 2022 numbers were solid, 2.80 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 3.94 FIP and only two home runs surrendered in 55 appearances. This was an improvement from his 3.90 ERA, nine home run and 4.58 FIP season in 2021. Though, he was still not as quite good as he was in his prime.
From 2016-2020, he sported a cumulative 12.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. In 2022 his K/9 was at 7.6 with his BB/9 up to 4.6. The average fastball velocity in 2022 (92.8 MPH) was right around his career average of 92.7, but the slider is not getting the whiffs it once did. His whiff rate fell from 42.6 percent in 2019 to 22 percent in 2022.
Regardless he still got solid results in the regular season with the Phillies, making just $6 million. As mentioned before, the Cubs have a solid track record of getting production from veteran arms. Get more whiffs from the slider, and he can post really good strikeout numbers again. Hand is 32, so there is reason to believe he still has stuff in the tank to at least be reliable out of the pen.