I’m sure many of you were hoping for a major acquisition to be announced by today, but you can take comfort in 2 things: first, there are about 24 hours left until the now-firm trade deadline expires and second, we have acquired 2 lefthanded pitchers who have been designated for assignment multiple times by other teams this season!
Today, the Cardinals announced that they have claimed LHP Adalberto Mejia on outright assignment waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. The rules require that the Cards place a player claimed on outright assignment waivers immediately on the 40-man roster at the time of the claim. Since the Cards’ 40-man roster was full, they made a corresponding roster move by transferring IF Jedd Gyorko from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL. Transferring a player from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL opens up a 40-man roster spot.
MEJIA CAREER TRAJECTORY
Mejia just turned 26 years old on June 20th of this year, and was signed by the San Francisco Giants organization as an undrafted free agent out of the Dominican Republic a month before his 18th birthday in 2011. After spending 5 minor league seasons in their organization, the Giants purchased his contract in the 2015 off-season to avoid losing him in the Rule 5 draft. He had been a starter, and only had 1 game above AA to that point in his career.
After optioning Media to AA Richmond again to start the 2016 season, the Giants promoted him to AAA Sacramento in mid-June. On July 28, 2016, the Giants then traded him to the Minnesota Twins straight up for SS Eduardo Nunez. The Twins immediately optioned him to AAA Rochester, recalled him to pitch once out of the bullpen on August 20th, then optioned him back to AAA the next day, where he finished out the season.
In 2017, Mejia made the Twins’ opening day roster as part of the starting rotation. He was optioned a handful of times, but made 21 appearances—all starts —for the Twins that season, compared to 6 starts for AAA Rochester. He also spent time on the Injured List with an arm injury.
Last season was basically a lost year for Mejia. He was actually optioned to AAA Rochester to start the 2018 season, spent a month on the minor-league injured list with a blister problem, then was not recalled to the Twins until June 29th. He made one start on June 30th and was optioned to AAA Rochester 2 days later. Mejia was recalled on July 23rd and started the game that day, then pitched 1 game out of the bullpen and made 2 more starts before being placed on the injured list with a wrist injury, being transferred to the 60-day list and being shut down for the year.
For this season, the Twins moved Mejia to the bullpen. After he pitched in 11 games, the Twins placed him on the 10-day IL with a lower calf strain. He was then transferred to the 60-day IL and was not activated until July 2, when he pitched 2 in 2 games before being designated for assignment. The Los Angeles Angels claimed him on outright assignment waivers on July 20th and put him out in the bullpen, with him making appearances in 4 out of the next 5 days. The Angles then designated Mejia for assignment and placed him on outright assignment waivers, which takes us to what we are now.
WHAT KIND OF PITCHER IS MEJIA?
The limited research I have been able to do to get this out in a timely manner has suggested that Mejia’s problem as a starter was that he just didn’t have enough quality pitches to stay in the rotation. Over 21 starts for the Twins in 2017, 44 BB and 85 SO in 98 IP. With a FIP of 4.65, 4.04 BB/9 and 7.81 K/9, he wasn’t disgustingly bad, but at a 1.1 fWAR, they thought they could do better in the rotation. It’s probably useless to try to analyze Mejia’s 2018 major league season, as we’re only talking about 5 games and 22.1 IP. But if you compare his 14 games and 11 starts for AAA Rochester in 2018 with his 2017 season in the majors, he did improve across the board.
This season, however, he seems to have lost his control. In 13 games and 15.1 IP, he has 12 BB to only 15 SO. He also gave allowed 3 HR in that span. He only had the 4 games for the Angels, and in 4.1 IP for them, he walked 1 and struck out 6. It’s fair to call it a small sample, but when you consider that he’s got 5.95 BB/9 on the season combined with all of his injuries, you can understand why teams decided to move on.
GYORKO AND CARDINALS ROSTER RAMIFICATIONS
Although the Cardinals made this claim today and had to make a 40-man roster move today, he will likely not be joining the team and activated to the 25-man roster before tonight’s game with the Cubs. Players in this situation typically have 24 hours to report, and in the past, when we have claimed players off of waivers from other organizations, it has been a day or two before we were able to activate them.
Because Mejia is out of options, the Cardinals will have to activate him to the 25-man roster whenever he does report, which means they will have to make a corresponding roster move. If the roster stays the way it is now, look for Tyler Webb to be optioned to AAA Memphis to make room. Another move that many prefer would be to designate Mike Mayers for assignment, but considering that they just activated him from the 60-day IL just the other day, I find this to be an unlikely possibility. No other moves make even remote sense given the other choices.
As for Gyorko, it’s a little strange to see him go from a 30 HR per year player to turn into the cipher he has become this year. His transfer to the 60-day IL does not restart the clock. Under the rules, the time he has already spent on the 10-day IL counts towards the 60 days ,which means he will be eligible to be activated on August 7th. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me to see him traded in the next day or so with all of our other middle infield options. Although it is rare, it is perfectly legal to trade someone on the IL, and as long as a trade partner is satisfied that he is healthy, the Cards would not have to add him back to the 40-man to make such a trade