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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the deal.
Hand has appeared in 41 games this season and boasts a 3.17 FIP. His 13.2 strikeouts per nine innings are on pace to be a career high.
Hand first became a full-time reliever in 2016 after the Padres claimed him off waivers from the Miami Marlins. The left-hander then enjoyed a career year, posting a 2.92 ERA and a 3.07 FIP, and averaging 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Hand was even better in 2017 after replacing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Maurer as San Diego’s regular closer. He registered 21 saves and struck out an average of 11.8 batters, while his ERA and FIP improved to 2.16 and 3.03, respectively.
The Padres rewarded Hand with a three-year extension worth $19.7 million. The contract includes a $10 million club option for 2021.
Elite closers are generally luxuries for losing teams rather than necessities, but Hand’s contract provided the Padres with at least one reason to consider keeping him.
By giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million deal this past offseason, the franchise indicated it wants to be a winner in the near future. By 2021, San Diego may have climbed toward playoff contention, at which point having somebody such as Hand would be much more important.
With that said, Hand’s contract also meant the Padres could demand even more in a trade. He’s under team control for up to three more years, so San Diego didn’t have to settle for a meager return because it risked losing him for nothing in the offseason.
General manager A.J. Preller has done well to rebuild the Padres’ farm system after they tried to fast-track their journey back to the playoffs in 2015. Much as he did with Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz and James Shields, Preller flipped Hand for younger players who further strengthen one of MLB‘s best farm systems.
Following the 2018 MLB draft, Bleacher Report’s Joel Reuter placed the Padres third behind the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox in his farm system rankings. Although San Diego is headed for an eighth straight losing season, the team’s outlook is undeniably bright.
Although their bullpen was one of their biggest strengths last season, it is now the Indians’ biggest Achilles’ heel. Andrew Miller is on the DL, and closer Cody Allen currently has a 4.66 ERA.
Hand fills a huge need, and Cimber should contribute as well since he has a 3.17 ERA in 41 appearances this season.
The 22-year-old Mejia has appeared in just one MLB game this season, but he is a highly touted prospect due to his hitting ability.
In 79 games at the Triple-A level, Mejia is hitting .279 with seven home runs and 45 RBI this season.
For the Indians, acquiring Hand is a win-now move, but his contract ensures Cleveland has some time to show this trade was worth it. Should the team fall short of its goal in 2018, Hand will be around for 2019, 2020 and potentially 2021.
Cleveland paid a steep price for Hand, but there are multiple avenues through which this can be a worthwhile venture.
Stats are courtesy of FanGraphs