The Cleveland Indians received a much-needed injection of life into their bullpen when the team acquired LHP Brad Hand and RHP Adam Cimber from the San Diego Padres in exchange for C Francisco Mejia. The Indians bullpen, prior to this transaction, consisted of just one pitcher with an ERA below 3.00. That pitcher would be the 36-year old veteran Oliver Perez, who has a 0.68 ERA in 13 appearances this season. It is clear that the Indians needed help this year, but just how much did this help them? What about San Diego’s acquisition?
The Indians are currently 52-43 with a 7.5 game lead over the Detroit Tigers in what is arguably the weakest division in baseball. Hand, 28, owns a 2.66 ERA in two and a half seasons with the Padres. He also comes with a bit of control, having signed a three-year extension in the offseason. He currently owns a 3.05 ERA and 24 saves in 41 games this season. Adam Cimber, 27, made his major league debut this season and has had a strong campaign. He has pitched to a 3.17 ERA in 42 games. He has struck out 51 batters as opposed to issuing just 10 free passes this season. The Indians have added two relievers with ERAs less than 3.50 to a bullpen that had only one reliever with an ERA below 3.00. Cimber comes with five years of control, so the Indians have acquired not only reinforcements for this potential World Series run, but potential runs within the next 3-5 years. The Indians are also anticipating the return of fellow southpaw Andrew Miller from injury, which makes this move look even better.
On the flip side, the Padres acquire another prospect to assist their rebuild. Prior to this deal, San Diego had a MLB best nine Top 100 prospects, and the acquisition of Francisco Mejia increases it ten. Mejia, the eleventh-best prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, was hitting .279 in Triple A this season. San Diego has another touted catching prospect in Austin Hedges, so there is some speculation that Mejia could be moved to another position. The Indians did ask him to work on his defense so he could play the outfield, and was announced as a catcher/outfielder when the trade was made official. In any event, this trade possibly gives San Diego one of the best farm systems in all of baseball and another building block in what has been a long rebuild.
This trade is a win-win in all honesty. The Indians acquire bullpen reinforcements, and despite the loss of a highly-touted prospect, they have the potential to make a few more runs to the Fall Classic. On the other hand, the Padres have added another top prospect who is close to being MLB ready. The Padres won’t be contenders for a few years at least, but they are flying under the radar in my opinion.
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