Nov. 22: The Indians announced the trade, revealing that they sent 19-year-old righty Ignacio Feliz to San Diego in return. Feliz spent the 2017 season with Cleveland’s affiliate in the Dominican Summer League and the 2018 campaign with their Rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League.
After some significant control issues in 2017, Feliz took a huge step forward in 2018 against older competition, pitching to a 3.00 ERA with 10.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate well north of 50 percent in 45 innings. Encouragingly for Padres fans, Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen opined that Feliz was the best prospect traded on the day of the 40-man deadline and provided a brief scouting report on the athletic young righty.
Nov. 20: The Padres are in agreement on a trade that’ll send right-hander Walker Lockett to the Indians, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports (via Twitter). In exchange, San Diego will receive a minor league pitcher who doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man roster in advance of tonight’s deadline to protect players from the 40-man roster.
For San Diego, the trade boils down to clearing some space on the 40-man as they look to protect as much of their vaunted farm system from next month’s Rule 5 Draft as possible. It’s the second such trade they’ve made today, having already sent Colten Brewer to the Red Sox in an earlier swap. Quite likely, there’ll be more moves for the Friars when all is said and done.
It’s also the second such trade that Cleveland has made, as the Indians yesterday acquired righty Chih-Wei Hu from the Rays. Like Hu, Lockett will present Cleveland with some optionable depth for the pitching staff. The 24-year-old Lockett was hammered for 16 runs in 15 big league innings this season, but he showed strong ground-ball tendencies and solid control while pitching in the minors. Through 133 1/3 innings in Triple-A last season, Lockett posted a 4.73 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 47.3 percent ground-ball rate. The ERA, of course, isn’t pretty, but the Indians clearly believe he can improve with some adjustments under their watch.