Don’t call it a comeback, but Sandy León is set to return to the Cleveland Guardians on a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training, according to the team. The Guardians also dealt pitcher J.C. Mejia to the Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash and Harold Ramirez to the Cubs for cash.
León had a brief stint in Cleveland in 2020 where he played in 25 (of 60) games and amassed a .136/.296/.242 slash with two home runs. He didn’t fare much better in his trip to Miami last season, slashing .183/.237/.267 with four home runs in 84 games.
After the Guardians declined Roberto Pérez’s 2022 option earlier this month, the only two catchers on their 40-man roster are Bryan Lavastitda (who hasn’t played at the major-league level) and Austin Hedges (who can’t hit at the major-league level). León isn’t going to fix their short-term catcher situation by any stretch, but the barren free-agent catcher market means there are not many other options to hold down the fort until Lavastitda and Bo Naylor are ready to make a push for the majors. I’d be surprised if León is their last catcher add-on of the offseason, but don’t expect anything huge.
J.C. Mejía made the jump from High-A in 2019 to the majors in 2021 in an attempt by the Guardians to fill the holes left by several injuries to the rotation. The 25-year-old showed some signs of strikeout potential but was unable to make it work to earn an extended look. He finished the season with 17 games (11 starts) under his belt along with an 8.25 ERA and -0.5 fWAR.
Harold Ramirez was the Guardians’ latest attempt to find lightning in a bottle with an outfielder, and it almost seemed like they had. Ramirez joined the Guardians as a deceptively fast, hard-hitting outfielder who looked like he needed one or two adjustments to make the jump to become a serviceable major-leaguer. He lived up to the hype in those two regards, finishing in the 88th percentile for sprint speed and 85th percentile for average exit velocity, but his launch angle woes and awful plate discipline culminated in a .268/.305/.398 slash and just seven home runs in 99 games. On top of that, his pure speed has never translated to being a good defender.
Perhaps the Cubs will be the one to fix him — he just turned 27 in September, so there’s still time for him to figure it out.
Mejía and Ramirez were designated for assignment on Friday as the Guardians made room on the 40-man roster for Rule-5 eligible players. As of this writing, the Guardians still have a week to trade Justin Garza, Daniel Johnson, Scott Moss, Kyle Nelson, and Alex Young if they are claimed. Otherwise, they will be sent to the minor leagues or released.