The forecast in San Diego on Monday includes a little bit of Sunshine.
The Indians and Padres matched up for their third deadline deal in as many seasons on Monday as the two clubs swapped nine players, with Cleveland’s Mike Clevinger serving as the centerpiece of the deal.
Cleveland sends the right-handed starting pitcher, along with outfielder (and former San Diego State product) Greg Allen and a player to be named later, to San Diego for a haul of six players from the prospect-laden Padres, which is now cashing in on years of suffering for a big push to reach the new playoff format birthed out of the global pandemic. Coming to the Indians are Major League catcher Austin Hedges, outfielder Josh Naylor, and right-handed pitcher Cal Quantrill, along with three of San Diego’s top minor league prospects – shortstop Gabriel Arias, pitcher Joey Cantillo, and shortstop Owen Miller.
The Indians also announced that outfielder Domingo Santana has been designated for assignment to create roster space for the new additions.
Speculation heated up during the week and began to boil over on the weekend that Clevinger was available ahead of the August 31 deadline. The Indians were believed to be actively looking to add a bat to boost their abysmal offensive production from the three outfield spots and hope to have done so with Naylor, although the jury is still out with him. They also bring in a defense-first catcher in Hedges and a solid bullpen arm in Quantrill, along with the lottery tickets of the three minor leaguers, who ranked seventh, nine, and eleventh in the Padres’ farm system, according to MLB Pipeline.
Naylor is expected to immediately slot in for the Indians in left field, where the team has used eight different men in search of one to claim the job. The bulk of the playing time there has gone to Jordan Luplow (109 innings), with Santana (49), Allen (48), and Bradley Zimmer (45) also splitting most of the load.
The 23-year-old Naylor, the older brother of Indians’ top catching prospect Bo Naylor, was the 12th overall pick in the 2015 draft by the Miami Marlins. He was traded to the Padres the following trade deadline in a seven-player deal and continued to develop on the farm, showing steadily improving numbers in the power department, in batting average, and in getting on base. He debuted for the Padres in 2019, working in both corner outfield spots, while posting a .249/.315/.403 slash with 15 doubles, eight homers, and 32 RBI in 94 games.
This season, Naylor has played in 18 games, hitting .278 with a .316 on-base percentage and a .417 slugging mark with a triple, a homer, and four RBI while playing left field, right field, first base, and designated hitter.
Quantrill, 25, is another former first round pick, selected eighth overall by San Diego in 2016 out of Stanford. The son of former MLB pitcher Paul Quantrill, Quantrill worked exclusively as a starting pitcher during his first four years in the organization before he was called up in 2019. Last season, he made 18 starts and five relief appearances, posting a 6-8 record with a 5.16 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP.
Working out of the bullpen for nine of his ten appearances so far this season, Quantrill was 2-0 with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
Hedges became the odd man out behind the plate in San Diego following one of general manager A.J. Preller’s earlier trades over the weekend when the club acquired catcher Austin Nola from Seattle in a multi-player swap. The 28-year-old Hedges has served as the team’s primary catcher this season in his sixth year in the Bigs, but has struggled again at the plate, hitting .158 with a .258 OBP and .333 slugging mark with a double, three homers, and six RBI in 29 games.
As for the prospects, the future will prove whether that half of the trade pans out for the Tribe.
Arias, a shortstop by trade, is a 20-year-old right-handed hitter. One of the top prospects in the Padres’ pipeline, he has shown developing power while being pushed through the farm system a little ahead of schedule consistently by the San Diego brass. He is considered to be a solid defender with a strong arm and good range, making him an interesting acquisition ahead of the pending problem with Francisco Lindor’s steadily decreasing contractual commitment in Cleveland. Arias’ work at the plate will be the biggest focus moving forward. The Padres had him in their alternate training site continuing his progression, and he will join the Indians’ group out in Lake County.
The left-hander Cantillo, 20, was just 17 when he was selected in the 16th round pick by the Padres in 2017. The Hawaiian has posted solid numbers throughout his minor league career, boasting a lifetime mark of 13-7 with a 2.51 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP with 221 strikeouts over 168 2/3 innings of work (11.8 strikeouts per nine innings) in his first two seasons of pro ball. Last season, he reached High-A with Lake Elsinore after opening the year at Class-A Fort Wayne. He went 10-4 with a 2.26 ERA in 22 starts. His fastball will sit in the low 90s, and he complements the pitch with a great changeup and a curveball.
Miller is the oldest of the three prospects, clocking in at 23. A third round pick out of Illinois State University in 2018, he has hit well through his first 205 games at the minor league level in 2018 and 2019, owning a career slash of .307/.367/.441. He hit 13 homers last season at Double-A Amarillo while batting .290 and got in extra work after the season in the Arizona Fall League. A shortstop by trade, he also played second base and third base a season ago.
Heading out of Cleveland, Clevinger’s tale will be a sad one. Once one of the more promising trade thefts committed by the Indians in recent memory, the 29-year-old right-hander may have very well forced his way out of Cleveland earlier than hoped due to his reckless behavior earlier in the month. Still under team control for the 2021 and 2022 seasons, he was a part of the rotation that the team should have been able to build around, giving the club an impressive nucleus at the position, but instead of helping to anchor a potential playoff pitching staff with the Indians, he will do the same across the country in San Diego with the upstart Padres, which needed starting pitching help to support a powerful young offense.
In five years in the Indians rotation, Clevinger made 88 start and 13 relief appearances, posting a 42-22 record with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP with 584 strikeouts in 523 1/3 innings. This season, he was 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in four starts split around his demotion to the minor leagues following breaking pandemic protocols. While Clevinger has dealt with a handful of injuries over the last few years, there is no question that he is an effective pitcher when on the mound. Among all pitchers to make at least 75 starts since 2017, only Justin Verlander (2.82 ERA) has posted an ERA less than Clevinger’s 2.90 mark in that span in the American League, according to ESPN Stats & Information. His price tag was going to continue to rise through arbitration and he was likely a candidate for trade rumors in the winter, but moving him as early as the organization did may be more of a reflection of the damage that he did to his reputation with his selfish actions during the team’s road trip to Chicago in early August.
Allen, 26, was a sixth round pick by the Indians in 2014. The San Diego native and alumnus of San Diego State University gets to return home to southern California with the Padres. The switch-hitting outfielder capable of playing all three spots has great speed on the base paths that has been hindered by his inability to get on base consistently. In 15 games this season, he hit .160 with a .214 on-base percentage and .320 slugging mark with a double, one homer, and four RBI while stealing just one base. In 220 career games over the last four seasons, he owns a .239/.295/.344 slash with 31 stolen bases in 37 attempts.
The rumored player-to-be-named later heading from Cleveland to San Diego is right-handed reliever Matt Waldron. A 23-year-old picked in the 18th round of the 2019 draft out of Nebraska made 14 appearances (one start) for the Indians with their Arizona League Red team and at short-season Mahoning Valley, going 4-0 with a 2.96 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. As he is not a member of the 60-man player pool this season, he cannot be formally dealt under the current protocols.
Santana’s Indians’ tenure lasted just five weeks of the regular season. He appeared in 24 games, hitting .157 with a .298 OBP and .286 slugging mark with three doubles, two homers, and 12 RBI in his seventh big league season. Signed in February to a one-year contract for $1.5 million with a $5 million team option for 2021, he was not able to replicate some of the numbers posted throughout his career with Houston, Milwaukee, and Seattle.
The Indians will have seven days to trade Santana, release him, or place him on irrevocable outright waivers. As a player with more than three years of service time, he has the right to refuse an outright assignment by the Indians to their alternate site in the event that he were to pass through waivers unclaimed.
Preller has now completed five significant trades for the Padres in a span just over 48 hours. It marked the third straight season that he Indians and Padres have struck deals at or just ahead of the trade deadline. Last year, the Indians acquired outfielder/designated hitter Franmil Reyes, pitcher Logan Allen, and minor leaguer Victor Nova from San Diego as part of the Trevor Bauer three-team trade (that also included Cincinnati). In 2018, the Indians received All-Star closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber from the Padres on July 18 for top prospect Francisco Mejia.
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