What's interesting here is that toward the beginning of this offseason, Cleveland placed Hand on outright waivers, hoping another club would take him for one year and $10 million off its hands. No team did and Cleveland had to pay the buyout of $1 million in declining the option, so Hand actually comes out ahead by $1.5 million than if his option had simply been picked up.
Hand, 30, led the majors with 16 saves last season while pitching to a 2.05 ERA and 0.77 WHIP with 29 strikeouts against just four walks. His fastball won't blow opposing hitters away anymore, but his slider is outstanding and he has excellent command. Even with the drop in velocity in 2020, his allowed hard hit percentage went down. He held opposing hitters to a .169/.226/.260 line.
The move for the Nationals doesn't necessarily preclude a reunion in D.C. with free agent left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle, but it does give the Nats a natural replacement in the late-inning lefty role if said reunion doesn't happen.
As far as what the Nationals have for the late innings right now, Daniel Hudson was the closer last season and returns, but he also posted a 6-plus ERA. Hand can certainly handle closing duties, as we've seen in recent years. Righties Tanner Rainey and Will Harris also figure to be slotted in high-leverage roles entering the season.
Hand had been connected heavily in rumors with the Mets in recent weeks, but nothing came to fruition. Instead, he'll end up with a different NL East team.