Tribe adds Mejia to 40-man, claims 2 off waivers

Club's No. 4 prospect protected from Rule 5 Draft; catcher Gimenez outrighted

Tribe adds Mejia to 40-man, claims 2 off waivers

The Indians have a fair share of decisions to make on their Major League roster as they prepare to defend their American League pennant. Before that, they made some key decisions Friday, adding slick-hitting catcher Francisco Mejia to their 40-man roster while claiming left-handed pitchers Edwin Escobar and Tim Cooney off waivers.

The Indians, who had been at 38 players on their 40-man roster, created one more open spot by outrighting catcher Chris Gimenez.

Cleveland had to add Mejia to the roster or risk losing him in next month's Rule 5 Draft. Considering Mejia sits 84th on MLBPipeline.com's overall list of top prospects, that decision was a no-brainer.

Mejia, the Tribe's No. 4 prospect, earned national acclaim for his 50-game hitting streak in Class A ball, the longest by a Minor League player in 62 years. He hit .342 (139-for-407) with 29 doubles, 11 home runs and 80 RBIs for the season between Class A Lake County and Class A Advanced Lynchburg. His batting average and .896 OPS led all Indians Minor Leaguers.

Top Prospects: Mejia, CLE

Escobar spent most of the season in the D-backs' system after Arizona claimed him off waivers from Boston in April. The 24-year-old pitched in 25 games for the D-backs, posting a 1-2 record with a 7.23 ERA in 23 2/3 innings while walking 12 and striking out 17. He also went 6-3 with a 4.25 ERA in 16 starts for Triple-A Reno.

Cooney, who will turn 26 on Dec. 19, missed the 2016 season following left shoulder surgery. He made six starts for the Cardinals in 2015, going 1-0 with a 3.16 ERA. He walked 10 and struck out 29. He also posted a 6-4 record and 2.74 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Memphis in 2015.

Gimenez provided badly needed catching experience for the Indians following his early May acquisition from Texas. While he helped fill the void left by Yan Gomes' midseason injury, the presence of a healthy Gomes with Roberto Perez back and Guillermo Quiroz re-signed to a Minor League deal allowed the Indians the depth to make a move.

Jason Beck has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.