1:33pm: Mejia was actually granted a fourth minor league option, president of baseball operations David Stearns tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter link). That’s quite notable for his outlook, as he can now head to Triple-A Nashville and continue to develop as a starter and serve as some upper-level depth.
1:03pm: The Brewers have acquired right-hander J.C. Mejia from the Guardians in exchange for a player to be named later or cash, the teams announced. Mejia was one of seven players designated for assignment in Cleveland last Friday as the Guardians set their roster in advance of the Rule 5 protection deadline.
Mejia, 25, made his big league debut this past season for a Cleveland club that was rocked by injuries in the starting rotation. It wasn’t a great showing, evidenced by gruesome 8.25 ERA and 2.2 HR/9 marks through his first 52 1/3 Major League innings. His struggles weren’t confined to the Majors, either, as Mejia was roughed up for a 6.75 ERA in 39 Triple-A frames — also his debut at that level.
While the 2021 season wasn’t a strong one in terms of results, Mejia had a sharp track record prior to this rocky campaign. Even with this year’s poor Triple-A numbers, he sports a career 3.12 ERA in the minors — a mark accompanied by solid strikeout and walk rates (23.4% and 7.1%, respectively). Mejia also had a 48% ground-ball rate in the big leagues and has regularly posted grounder percentages north of 55% in the minors.
Starting pitching isn’t a major need in Milwaukee, where the Brewers have a star-studded rotation headlined by Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta. Righty Adrian Houser and lefty Eric Lauer round out the mix, and the Brewers also have some homegrown alternative options in the form of Aaron Ashby and Ethan Small — the former of whom could open the 2021 season in the Milwaukee bullpen.
Given that solid group of options, Mejia seems likely to open the year in the bullpen — if he survives the winter on the 40-man roster. Mejia is out of minor league options, so he’ll need to break camp with the club or else be exposed to waivers. With a ~93mph four-seamer and sinker working as a starter, it’s possible his velocity could jump into the mid-90s working in shorter stints. For now, he’ll likely head to camp in hopes of winning a long-relief spot.