On Thursday, the Cleveland Indians confirmed reports from Major League Baseball insiders and announced a trade: Cleveland acquired relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber for prospect Francisco Mejia.
The left-handed Hand, an MLB All-Star in each of the last two seasons, and Cimber, a 27-year-old rookie right-hander, are both under long-term team control, for three and five years respectively. That aspect makes this a very savvy move for the Indians, whose bullpen has been as bad as any in MLB this season.
In foresight, the Indians won this trade, big time. Getting two relievers to bolster a certifiably awful bullpen for the price of one prospect is a deal they can’t turn down. Cleveland’s ‘pen ranks 29th in ERA (5.28), 21st in opponents’ batting average (.254), 29th in strikeouts (250), and 27th in home runs allowed (49). For a division leader like the Tribe, that won’t cut it.
The Indians are a win-now team with a roster built for a World Series run in 2018. After having the American League’s best record in 2017, Cleveland sits at 52-43 and clear of any competition for the AL Central crown. They are willing to mortgage the future of the club for the present of such, and today’s trade proves it.The Brad Hand trade was a true win-win for the @Indians and @Padres, writes @TomDorsa.Click To Tweet
They get in Hand a guy that has a 2.47 ERA, 3.08 FIP, 0.987 WHIP, and 169 strikeouts (12.9 per nine) over the past two seasons. The vet has pitched 123.2 innings since Opening Day of 2017 on, compiling 45 saves and posting a 169 ERA+. If you’re looking at a list of elite closers, you won’t get too far down before reading Brad Hand’s name.
In Cimber, Terry Francona‘s squad nails down a submarine right-hander with elusive stuff. His 3.17 ERA in 42 appearances in nothing to scoff at, and his ability to get groundballs for a tremendous Indians infield defense will pay dividends against the hefty bats of the AL. You cannot lose with this deal if you’re anywhere in Cleveland.
But, in hindsight, the real winner is San Diego and general manager A.J. Preller. Mejia was the top prospect in the Indians system, and ranked as the number-one catcher prospect in baseball. After the acquisition of Mejia, the Padres now have 10 of MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects, including seven of the top 50. Headlined by third-ranked Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego’s farm system is the best in baseball.
3. SS Fernando Tatis Jr.
13. LHP Mitchell Gore
15. C/OF Francisco Mejia
29. 2B/SS Luis Urias
32. RHP Cal Quantrill
33. RHP Michel Baez
42. LHP Adrian Morejon
75. RHP Anderson Espinoza
95. RHP Chris Paddack
97. LHP Logan Allen
Combine that elite Top 100 core with proven MLB commodities like Wil Myers, Manuel Margot, Eric Hosmer, Luis Perdomo, and Kirby Yates and you have a club that should have San Diego faithful salivating. A middle-infield of Tatis Jr. and Urias coupled with a Grade A bat like that of Mejia will have the offense pumping, while Gore, Quantrill, Paddack and more will be pivotal forces on the hill.
In April of 2016, the Padres claimed Hand off of waivers from the Miami Marlins as a warm body on their 40-man roster. 27 months later, Hand — an All-Star for the second consecutive season after an unprecedented career resurgence — turned into the top catcher prospect in MLB for the Padres.
They just received the best prospect at his position in the major leagues for a relief pitcher they claimed off of waivers. It’s been 12 years since the Padres played in a postseason game, and though that drought will almost certainly extend to 2019, the future looks bright for manager Andy Green‘s club, and it’s because of smart, no-risk/high-reward moves like that.
In conclusion, this is truly one of the best examples of a win-win trade you’ll ever see. The AL playoff field is as stacked as ever and the Indians needed relievers to help an otherwise stout team, and the Padres are fast-forwarding an extremely successful rebuild by attaining a legit superstar catcher prospect. It’s great when things work out like that.
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