The Twins and Guardians have swung an inter-division trade, with Minnesota picking up catcher Sandy Leon. Right-hander Ian Hamilton is headed to Cleveland on the other end of the swap. The two players have been respectively assigned to their new teams’ Triple-A affiliates.
Ryan Jeffers suffered a thumb fracture in mid-July that will keep him out of action for another 4-6 weeks, leaving the Twins short at catcher behind Gary Sanchez. The veteran Leon will provide some defense-first depth behind Sanchez, with rookie Caleb Hamilton and the more experienced Chance Sisco (on the Triple-A roster) also in the mix.
Leon’s second stint in Cleveland didn’t last long, as the Guardians only acquired him from the Reds in cash deal in late June, and then outrighted him off the 40-man roster two weeks ago. For the season, Leon has appeared in only eight MLB games and posted a .514 OPS over 21 plate appearances. Other than an offensive outburst over 78 games with the Red Sox in 2016, Leon has been a defensive specialist for much of his career, well-regarded as a pitch-framer and for his ability to manage pitchers and call games.
Hamilton has amassed 14 2/3 innings over parts of three MLB seasons, including 2 2/3 frames with the Twins this year. An 11th-round pick for the White Sox in 2016, Hamilton had some excellent numbers at Triple-A this year, with a 1.88 ERA, 32.1% strikeout rate, and 7.1% walk rate in 28 2/3 relief innings.