OUR SPORTS WORLD
Just call it the business of being the San Diego Padres. The lone Padre 2018 All-Star is now a former Padre as Brad Hand and fellow bullpen mate Adam Cimber are headed to Cleveland to join the AL Central leaders.
At this point, the Padres should just be on HGTV. Brad Hand is yet another reclamation project that they’ve been able to flip with a high return. Hand was a waiver pickup from Miami who transformed into one of the top closers in baseball. Cimber was a surprise rookie that wasn’t expected to make the big league club. And now, they’ll help a bullpen ranked 14th in baseball with the 2nd lowest save total among contending teams. In return, Cleveland sent MLB Pipeline’s #15 prospect Francisco Mejia. Mejia, 22, batted .279 with 7 HR and 48 RBI with Triple-A Columbus this season and has one of the strongest arms in the minors. He projects as an outfielder, but is a catcher by trade. This addition now gives the Padres ten prospects in the MLB top 100.
Since my fan contract with the Padres extends through the end of the season, it is still my duty to evaluate the trade. And I’m not sure what it all means. Cleveland has Ian Gomez set as their backstop and like Roberto Perez as their catcher of the future. They tried Mejia at different positions during his stints in the bigs, but apparently, he didn’t like the idea too well. As talented as Mejia is, in Cleveland’s eyes, he was a bit expendable.
This trade also gets me wondering about Austin Hedges’ future. Does Mejia’s arrival mean that Hedges is on the clock? If not, can the Padres convince Mejia to switch positions when Cleveland couldn’t? Catchers are the managers on the field. They call the pitches and set the defense. Offensive output by catchers is usually seen as a bonus. Not every catcher can be Johnny Bench or Buster Posey. But even for those lowered expectations, Hedges’ bat has disappointed. He may regulated to 8th or even 9th in the batting order for his entire career. Mejia has major league experience, but calling a game is a different story. But again, as most things Padres are these days, it’s a wait and see process. I guess that 2020 target date is starting to look more like 2021 and beyond.
Meanwhile, I’ve already received one offer for next season. Let’s see if we can a bidding war going...