The Indians found the bullpen help they so desperately needed. The Padres got the impact position player prospect close to the majors that they desperately needed.
The Indians acquired All-Star lefthander Brad Hand and rookie righthander Adam Cimber from the Padres on Thursday morning. In exchange the Padres received catcher/outfielder Francisco Mejia, the top prospect in the Indians system and the No. 24 overall prospect in the game.
Hand and Cimber provide massive relief to an Indians bullpen that is second-worst in the majors with a 5.28 ERA. Mejia gives the Padres a potential impact bat they desperately needed in order to realistically contend in 2019-2020, as ownership has repeatedly stated is the goal.
Francisco Mejia, C/OF
Mejia has long been known as one of the best pure hitters in the minors. The switch-hitting catcher has batted .291/.345/.444 in his minor league career, including a 50-game hit streak in 2016 that set a modern minor league record. He made his MLB debut last September and was up playing for the Indians as recently as Sunday. Mejia is a better hitter righthanded (.321, .871 OPS this season) than lefthanded (.264, .715 OPS) but is dangerous from both sides. He is a premium contact hitter who has steadily grown into his power the last three years, although he doesn’t walk much and struggles being overaggressive at times. Mejia has elite arm strength, but he is undersized for a catcher and his receiving and effort behind the plate have drawn increasingly negative reviews. He remains a catcher primarily, but he played more than a third of his games this year at Triple-A Columbus in the outfield, primarily left field. He also played third base in the Arizona Fall League last year. Mejia needs to shore up some things defensively behind the plate, but even if he has to move to left field or third base for good he has the offensive ability to be an everyday standout. With the Padres ranking 27th in the majors in runs scored and their system light on bats after Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias, Mejia provides the offensive injection they needed to improve heir chances for both short-term and long-term success.
Brad Hand, LHP
Claimed off waivers from the Marlins in April 2016 as a swingman, Hand moved to the bullpen full-time in San Diego in flourished. In two and a half seasons with the Padres he posted a 2.66 ERA, an 11.8 K/9 rate and a 3.0 BB/9 rate. He was an All-Star the last two seasons with 45 combined saves. Hand’s late-game dominance and ability to pitch multiple innings made him the top reliever available at the deadline this year, although he has struggled recently with an 8.00 ERA and three blown saves in his last nine appearances. He’ll immediately slot into a late-inning role with the Indians and is in position to take over as their closer if Cody Allen scuffles.
Adam Cimber, RHP
Cimber is one of the feel-good stories of the year as a 27-year-old career minor leaguer who made the team as a non-roster invitee to spring training. With his cross-body, nearly submarine delivery, Cimber hides the ball well from opposing hitters and keeps them on the defensive. On the year he went 3-5, 3.17 with 51 strikeouts and 10 walks in 48.1 innings, primarily pitching in the sixth and seventh innings. Cimber will move into a similar role in Cleveland, providing a bridge to Hand just as he did in San Diego.