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Cleveland Indians Trade Top Prospect Francisco Mejia To Acquire San Diego Padres' All-Star Closer Brad Hand

By Fitzgerald Cecilio
on Jul 20, 2018 07:17 AM EDT
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The Cleveland Indians boosted their bullpen after acquiring relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from the San Diego Padres, who got catching prospect Francisco Mejia from the deal.

Considered one of the best left-handed relievers in baseball, Hand has tallied a 2.66 ERA and 3.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2016. Hand is also an ideal long-term acquisition for the Indians if they lose relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen at the end of the season.

Hand, Cimber To Beef Up Indians Bullpen

Hand is signed through the 2020 season including a club option worth $10 million in 2021. He is expected to earn $6.5 million in 2019 and $7 million in 2020.

Like Hand, Cimber could provide the Indians with some bullpen help for years to come. Cimber has an ERA of 3.17 and a 5.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 48 innings. With Cimber in his rookie year, the Indians have him under control through the 2023 season.

"Trades like this are always difficult to make," says Chris Antonetti, the Indians' president of baseball operations. According to Antonetti, it's very hard to part ways with Mejia, but the team also needs some bullpen hand that could impact the team for the years to come.

Currently, the Indians bullpen is ranked 29th in the Majors in terms of ERA with 5.28. Before the All-Star break, Indians manager Terry Francona has used 19 relievers as he tried to find the right combination that will help them protect their AL Central lead.

Mejia Expected To Shine With Padres

The 22-year-old Mejia, who is the No. 1 rankedIndians prospect and No. 15 overall, has spent his time in Triple-A during his stint with the Indians. Aside from being a catcher, Mejia also split his time in the outfield.

In 2016, Mejia tallied a 50-game hitting streak at Triple-A Columbus. This year, he's hitting .279 with 30 extra-base hits and a .755 OPS through 79 games. Mejia has two short stints with the Indians this season, but he failed to make a breakthrough due to the presence of Yan Gomes as catcher.

According to Antonetti, the Indians expect Mejia to succeed with the Padres, who plan to use him as catcher as well. For the meantime, the Padres will send Mejia to Triple-A El Paso to further hone his skills.

However, Padres general manager A.J. Preller believes that Mejia, a switch-hitter, is on the doorstep of the big leagues.

"You're losing two quality relievers, but ultimately getting a 22-year-old switch-hitting catcher who ... has a huge arm, has got some hitting accolades, can swing the bat," Preller says.

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