AP source: Nationals agree to sign All-Star closer Brad Hand

National Sports

WASHINGTON (AP) — All-Star closer Brad Hand has agreed to a deal with the Washington Nationals, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because the contract was still not official and is pending the successful completion of a physical exam.

The 30-year-old left-hander is poised to become Washington’s closer after leading the majors with 16 saves during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Hand joins the back end of the bullpen that already includes Will Harris, Daniel Hudson and Tanner Rainey.

After tying for last place in the NL East, the Nationals have acquired Hand, starter Jon Lester (pending a physical), slugger Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Josh Bell. They also brought back the organization’s longest tenured player, Ryan Zimmerman, after he opted out in 2020.

Cleveland declined Hand’s $10 million option after last season. Multiple reports have indicated his agreement with the Nationals is one year for $10.5 million.

Hand will be playing for his fourth team in his 11th major league season. He has a 3.65 ERA in 396 career appearances and 105 saves and has been a full-time reliever since 2016, making three All-Star teams.

Hand’s fastball velocity has dropped over 2 mph the past two seasons and averaged 91.4 mph in 2020. Despite that, he posted a 2.05 ERA and struck out 29 batters in 22 innings.

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AP Sports Writer Howard Fendrich contributed.

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