Mejia, 28, put up a .227/.258/.400 batting line in 160 plate appearances for the Rays this year. He split time behind the dish for Tampa Bay with Christian Bethancourt, logging 381 innings. Mejia hit the IL in late July with an MCL sprain, an injury that cost him about a month. Upon his activation in August, the Rays instead chose to designate Mejia for assignment, sticking with Rene Pinto as their backup catcher. Mejia then accepted his outright assignment, so as not to abandon the remainder of his $2.155MM salary. He then elected free agency in October.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, Mejia broke out as a bat-first switch-hitting Indians prospect in 2016. Prior to the 2018 season, Baseball America considered him the 20th best prospect in the game, while MLB.com had him at #11.
In July of 2018, the Indians traded Mejia to the Padres for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber. Mejia made the Padres in 2019 as the backup to Austin Hedges, though by the end of 2020 he was optioned to Triple-A. In December of 2020, Mejia was again traded, this time heading to the Rays with Luis Patiño, Blake Hunt, and Cole Wilcox for Blake Snell. Mejia and Patiño, the principals in that trade, have fallen far in these three years. Patiño was claimed on waivers earlier today, returning to the Padres. Snell, meanwhile, reached free agency, won his second Cy Young award, and was reported yesterday as an Angels priority by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Mejia paired up with Mike Zunino to form the Rays’ catching tandem in 2021. He posted a .260/.322/.416 batting line in 277 plate appearances, providing the best offense of his career to date. In 2022, with Zunino on the injured list, Mejia led the Rays and set a career-high with 638 1/3 innings caught, despite injuries of his own.
Though Mejia is still relatively young, he generally hasn’t impressed defensively and his highly-touted bat never materialized. Logan O’Hoppe holds the starting catching job for the Angels, and Mejia will have to supplant Matt Thaiss for the Halos’ backup role. The Angels shipped catcher Max Stassi to the Braves earlier this month along with David Fletcher, who then flipped Stassi to the White Sox. It’s been a quiet offseason otherwise for Angels GM Perry Minasian, who has seen Shohei Ohtani depart and has thus far added three relievers in Luis Garcia, Adam Cimber, and Adam Kolarek.