As the calendar turns to July, trade rumors begin to heat up, and the trade season is officially upon us. Undoubtedly the San Diego Padres will be at the forefront of said rumors all the way through the trade deadline.
The Padres’ most coveted trade asset and spoken about player has been Brad Hand. Ever since being claimed off of waivers from the Marlins in 2016, Hand has been nothing short of spectacular for the Padres, including posting a 3.05 ERA and nearly 13 K/9, while converting on 24 of his 28 save opportunities, which ranks him second in the NL.
While the Padres have said that they will not trade Hand unless the value is there, he is far and away the Padres’ best chance of acquiring a young Top 100 Prospect who can positively impact the future. As a result, general manager A.J. Preller has been keeping a steadily high price on Hand, in the hopes that a team would be willing to sell off some of their future for one of the premier closers in the game.
One team that keeps popping up in trade rumors has been the Cleveland Indians.
The Indians are currently leading their division by 11.5 games and are seemingly the only club in the AL Central who isn’t rebuilding. However, Cleveland’s bullpen has been shaky this year with the loss of Bryan Shaw to the Rockies, combined with the general ineffectiveness of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. If they were to add Brad Hand, they could be serious World Series contenders, simply because of how dominant their offense and starting pitching are.
Should the Indians have a strong desire to bolster their bullpen, the Padres would likely ask for one (or more) of Cleveland’s top prospects, with Francisco Mejia being the likely request. Mejia is Cleveland’s No. 1 prospect, and is ranked as the No. 15 prospect in all of baseball, including being ranked as the No. 1 catching prospect. Mejia profiles as a corner outfielder once he reaches the big leagues, but his bat is able to play anywhere, which is why he is so strongly coveted.
It’s also important to note that the Indians have been very reluctant to call Mejia up to the MLB, since he is absolutely raking at Triple-A and the Indians would really have nothing to lose in at least giving him a cup of coffee, with their division title basically locked up.
Therefore, it’s certainly possible that the Indians are prepared to trade Mejia for the right price, if a deal comes along. Still, teams don’t just give away their top prospect just to do it, and it would likely take more than just Brad Hand if the Padres were to acquire Mejia. A deal involving Hand and another bullpen piece (Kirby Yates or Craig Stammen) might get the job done, with a potential deal involving two Padres relievers, Mejia, and a throw-in prospect from the Indians (most likely a young player that could have high upside).
If the Padres have the chance to trade Brad Hand in exchange for Francisco Mejia, it could be a good time to pull the trigger. Hand has been stellar this year, but the Padres have proved time and time again that they are more than capable of turning “scrap heap” relievers into dominant bullpen pieces, such as Hand and Yates. Couple that with the fact that the Padres have a multitude of potentially solid relievers on the way, to go with their already stacked bullpen (Matt Strahm, Adam Cimber and Jose Castillo to name a few) and it seems to make sense to unload at least one reliever at the deadline, possibly more.