Reporters had surmised that the deadline would continue at a rapid pace after the chase for Manny Machado was over, and they were right. The Indians made the next splash, acquiring Brad Hand and Adam Cinder in exchange for Francisco Mejia, their top prospect according to MLB.com.
Our own Devan Fink, also headlined here, was going to offer some insights on the Hand market, but he was scooped before the post could go up. Here is what he had to say on the matter:
“Hand is one of the best examples of a failed starter turning into a lights-out reliever. This season, Hand has a 3.05 ERA — far from his career-best 2.16 ERA in 2017 — but with 65 strikeouts and just 15 walks over 44 1⁄3 innings pitched. Hand’s 35.0 percent strikeout rate ranks 11th among 164 qualified relievers this season, though his 8.1 percent walk rate ranks 68th. Still, though, with such a high strikeout rate, the walks won’t kill you; the difference between his strikeout and walk rate ranks 13th in the majors.
Clearly, this is what makes Hand valuable. Teams have learned to look past a pitcher’s ERA and into factors that they can actually control, such as strikeouts, walks, home runs and the ability to limit hard contact. Hand does all of those things well, which is why Baseball Prospectus’ Deserved Run Average (DRA) statistic suggests that his ERA should be 2.89. It can also explain why he has already been worth 0.7 fWAR this season.
Hand signed a three-year, $19.75 million contract extension with the Padres this offseason with a team option for 2021 valued at $10 million with a $1 million buyout. This widely considered to be a team-friendly contract, as we have entered a world in which relief pitching can make upwards of $15 million per year. A reliever as good as Hand making just over $7 million for four seasons, assuming his option is picked up, is a steal for anyone.”
So, the acquisition for Hand makes a ton of sense, and they also got back Cimber, who is a rookie right-handed reliever with an 82 ERA- in his first 48.1 innings. Clearly, team control is something they wanted if they were going to forfeit Mejia.
Mejia is everything you want in a top prospect; here is what MLB.com had to say:
“The switch-hitting Mejia has natural hitting ability from both sides of the plate. Though his approach is aggressive, Mejia generates consistently hard contact to all fields thanks to his advanced bat-to-ball skills and outstanding barrel control. His physical strength and bat speed generates sneaky raw power, especially from the left side, and he’s tapped into it more regularly as he’s climbed the ladder... After catching almost exclusively during his first four seasons, Mejia spent the entire AFL working at third base, where he compensated for raw footwork and actions with his cannon, plus-plus arm strength. While the Indians haven’t yet given up on Mejia as a catcher, it’s clear that they are eager to improve his defensive versatility, with the ultimate goal of getting his bat into the lineup regularly in 2018.”
This is yet another fascinating deal to inspect in the here-and-now and beyond, and it was clearly necessary for the Indians as they gear up for the playoff race sans the deadly relief core they had in years past.
What do you think? Do you think the Indians gave up too much for Hand, and do you think the Padres got a good return?