Jon Heyman: Price tag rising on Hand; Padres expected to be very active

The Padres are marketing Brad Hand as one of the very best relief pitchers in the game – in fact, second best to Josh Hader – so it’s no surprise that for the second year in a row they have a very high price tag on him.

The asking price prevented a deal last summer. And, in fact, if anything the price may have risen.

While last year they sought top prospects such as Alex Verdugo of the Dodgers and one among Juan Soto, Victor Robles or Carter Kieboom from the Nats (this was before Soto burst onto the scene), word is the price continues to go up.

Hand – who has 22 saves and a 2.75 ERA – has a new three-year deal signed this winter, he’s more established as a closer and continues to strike guys out. So perhaps the rising price tag shouldn’t shock anyone.

The Padres have talked to many teams, mostly about their pitching, and are expected to be extremely active as we near the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. The Phillies are said to be among the teams they’ve talked to.

The Padres are seeking a third baseman, and Maikel Franco is someone on their radar as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported. There’s little doubt they’d have interest in Rafael Devers of the Red Sox – they are known to have talked to Boston about Hand, at least in the past — but one person connected to the Red Sox says Devers “isn’t going anywhere.”

The Padres even checked in on Manny Machado as was reported here in something that can probably be classified as, “due diligence.” But no surprise, the Padres are more likely to sell than buy.

While they have a month to figure it out, their talks now revolve more around sales, and they involve multiple positions and, naturally, trade partners. They’ve made deals with the Red Sox before, including the ones that sent Craig Kimbrel and Drew Pomeranz there. Boston could use bullpen help most prominently, and the Padres have that in spades – not just the star Hand.

Another rival said the Padres are offering starting pitchers, relievers, outfielders and Jose Pirela, who is an outfielder and second baseman. The stars of any sale would be the bullpen pieces, which are terrific. They don’t have to trade Hand since he’s on a multiyear deal, but they have two other relievers having big years – Craig Stammen and Kirby Yates – and others like Adam Cimber and Matt Strahm, who are also performing well (see here for more).

While Hand is the main piece, Stammen — who was signed to a surprise two-year deal last winter — and Yates also would bring back decent prospects, as they are both effective and cost-efficient.

Among the starters, a rejuvenated Tyson Ross looks strong, while Clayton Richard, who’s pitching well lately, could be of interest.

The Padres have several outfielders. Wil Myers is the one on a long, high-priced contract, so he presumably stays. But they also have Manny Margot, Travis Janikowski, Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe, plus of course Pirela.

Those are a lot of pieces to work with. The question is whether anyone is willing to pay the Padres' price this year to add Hand or others.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.