The Indians added much needed depth to their bullpen by trading for Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from the Padres. Francisco Mejia, the number 15 ranked prospect according to MLB pipeline, went the other way. Although this deal did not have the same kind of speculation that led up to the Machado trade, it could have just as much impact on the outcome of this season.
From the Padres point of view this trade is just the next step in their long rebuild and Mejia will hopefully be a part of a competitive team in the future. Continuing to bide their time rather than trying to compete right now seems like a shrewd move given the depth of the NL West. However, the signing of Eric Hosmer to a long term deal now seems even more misjudged. Handing big money to a free agent suggested that the Padres were trying to compete in the next year or two. Hand and Cimber are both under team control for the next few years and they looked like they would have been integral parts of that pennant chasing team. Trading them away suggests that the Padres’ front office may have changed their minds about competing in the near future.
It always seemed like a long shot that this Padres team could start to compete in the NL West and this season has confirmed that.
Strengthening their already deep farm was the right move but attempting to improve the major league team over the winter may have pushed their opportunity to compete back even further.
By acquiring Hand and Cimber the Indians have added depth to their struggling bullpen this year. With a strong lineup and rotation the bullpen was their obvious weakness that needed addressing despite the dominance over the last couple of years. As we have seen in recent seasons the bullpen has become a key part of postseason play so this trade, or a similar one, was needed if the Indians are serious about competing this year.
Although the trade undoubtedly increases the chance of the Indians going deep into the postseason the biggest impact will be on the next couple of years. With both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen becoming free agents after this year their window for competing could be closing. Having the former Padres duo softens the blow if they lose either or both of their top two relievers. The Indians may still choose to pursue an elite reliever or two in free agency but strengthening via trade now reduces the need to overpay and improves their negotiating position. For these reasons the Padres and Indians seem a perfect match for this trade but time will tell who won this deal.
The trade market will surely heat up as we get closer to the non waiver deadline. Some of them will include bigger names than this deal but it is hard to see any making as much sense for both teams as this one. It is an opportunity to move on from poor offseason decisions for the Padres and improves an area of weakness for the Indians.