Well-Traveled Winston Abreu Joins Indians’ Pen In Trade With Rays

With Chad Bradford’s imminent activation from the disabled list, the Rays needed a fall guy to head back to the minors to make room on the active roster. That player turned out to be well-traveled righthanded reliever Winston Abreu, 32, who had pitched well as a member of the organization this season but who was claimed on waivers by the Indians when Tampa Bay designated him for assignment.

The two clubs subsequently worked out a trade, which involved the Rays sending Abreu, straight up, to Cleveland for 24-year-old righthander John Meloan, a once-promising relief prospect who had fallen on hard times. Both Abreu and Meloan have spent the majority of the season in Triple-A, and neither has significant big league experience. Abreu made his big league debut with the Orioles in 2006 and appeared in 27 games for the Nationals in 2007. He had allowed one run in four innings for the Rays this season.

Abreu pitched for Chiba Lotte of Japan’s Pacific League last season before signing a minor league deal with the Rays this spring. He served as closer for Triple-A Durham, going 3-0, 1.41 with 10 saves. In 32 innings, Abreu struck out 49 and walked 10. He had allowed just two runs in his last 10 outings for the Bulls.

Abreu was assigned to the Indians’ 25-man roster, where he’ll pitch out of their constantly shifting bullpen. He uses a low-90s fastball and a 83-85 mph slider to good effect, seeing as he has struck out 352 Triple-A batters in 279 innings (11.2 per nine). 

The Young
Meloan was the No. 8-ranked prospect in the Dodgers’ organization two years ago after he posted 19 saves for Double-A Jacksonville in 2007. A fifth-round pick out of Arizona in 2005, he went 27-2 in his last two seasons with the Wildcats. The Dodgers made Meloan a relief pitcher because of his full-effort delivery and largely two-pitch arsenal, which includes a fastball and slider. But when Meloan was moved back to a starter at the beginning of last year, his fastball velocity dropped three-to-five miles per hour. Since then, Meloan hasn’t been as effective. Still, Meloan is known as a competitor with good makeup, necessities for a career as a solid reliver.

Meloan did not register a decision in 44
innings pitched for Triple-A Columbus, and he posted a 5.52 ERA. He had
allowed 52 hits while striking out 27 and walking 17 batters. He joined the Indians organization in 2008, along with catcher Carlos Santana, in the Casey Blake deal. Last year, Meloan went a combined
5-11, 4.89 at the Triple-A level, pitching for Las Vegas and Buffalo.

Though the Rays didn’t have room for Abreu in their big league pen, they have both room and time to let Meloan develop at Durham. He once was considered one of the better relief prospects in baseball, but he struggled at the hitter’s heaven in Las Vegas.

On the other hand, Cleveland gets a veteran reliever who has had success this season, something that precious few in their flammable bullpen can claim. The Indians have the worst team ERA in baseball, and have blown 14 saves in 28 opportunities.

Trade Central 2009