In 2016 Padres lefty Drew Pomeranz threw a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game and before he could make another appearance in a San Diego uniform he was traded for a top-15 prospect (RHP Anderson Espinoza from the Red Sox).
In 2018 Padres lefty Brad Hand threw a scoreless inning in the All-Star Game. He’s not going to wear a San Diego uniform again this year, either.
The Padres have agreed to trade Hand and fellow reliever Adam Cimber to the Indians for catching prospect Francisco Mejia. Cleveland is in a pennant race and in dire need of bullpen help. They certainly got it in Hand, one of the most versatile relief pitchers in baseball.
Hand, a 2-time All-Star who was claimed off of waivers by the Padres early in the 2016 season, became a dominant reliever in San Diego. He has the capability to handle anything from the 5th to 9th innings. Basically if there’s a high-leverage out, Hand can get it. He signed a 3-year contract extension (plus a club option for 2021) worth $19.75 million before the 2018 season, making him an affordable and controllable player.
Cimber, a 27-year-old right-hander with a funky submarine delivery, was a surprise when he made the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training. He’s pitched well, striking out 51 with just 10 walks in 48.1 innings.
Hand was in demand at the 2017 trade deadline but nobody met the Padres high asking price. The Indians did that in parting with their top prospect.
Mejia is ranked by many scouting services as the #1 catching prospect in baseball. Cleveland tried him out at 3rd base in the Arizona Fall League and has given him a little time in the outfield in the minors. Behind the plate he has a tremendous arm and although he is not a great defensive catcher he's known for having a solid work ethic and has shown improvement as a backstop.
The position change is more based on having to find a way to get his bat in the lineup.
Mejia is a switch-hitter with a career .291/.345/.444 slash line in the minor leagues. In 2016 he played in the Futures Game at Petco Park during All-Star weekend. Last year, as a 21-year-old, he was the Eastern League Rookie of the Year and earned a call-up to the Majors straight from Double-A.
MLB.com has him ranked as the 15th-best overall prospect in baseball. The Padres now have 10 of the Top-100 prospects, including three of the Top-15 and seven of the top 42.
Speaking of prospects, trading two players for one also frees up a 40-man roster spot, something the Padres need to be conscious of as several of their top prospects are going to need protection this off-season.
A Padres representative told NBC 7 SportsWrap that Mejia is likely to head to Triple-A El Paso for the time being, meaning (at least for now) that Austin Hedges is still the starting catcher for the Padres. An announcement on who replaces Hand and Cimber on the 25-man roster is expected on Friday before the Padres start a series in Philadelphia.