Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sergio Santos Swapped to the Blue Jays


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Well, the search for the new closer of the Toronto Blue Jays has come to an end; it will be Sergio Santos.

In typical Silent Assassin style, Alex Anthopoulos pulled off yet another blindsided trade, shipping prospect Nestor Molina to the Chicago White Sox for Sergio Santos.

At first, I was a little puzzled by the move because it was just a few weeks ago that John Farrell stated the club had internal discussions that Nestor Molina might be the closer of the future. Having worked with him first hand in Lansing and then New Hampshire, Sal Fasano sung the praises of Molina as well.

Perhaps that was just the Blue Jays talking up their prospects, but then they turned around and traded away their "closer of the future". I'm not sure how serious those discussions were about Molina as closer, but something must have changed since then.

Sure, Toronto could've given Nestor Molina the ball out of Spring Training camp as the closer and gone the rookie closer route. It certainly would've been a cost-controllable option, but there would have been questions about Molina's ability to jump to the majors.

Was that just the Blue Jays trying to add more value to one of their highly-touted prospects? If it was, that was a genius move, but one would think a team's scouting report wouldn't be influenced by what another team says in the media about said prospect.

After the initial puzzlement wore off, I looked at Sergio Santos' contract details and suddenly this swap started to make much more sense. Santos is under contract through 2014 and has three options tacked on to the end of the contract. So if they wish, the Blue Jays can control Sergio Santos until 2018.

That being said, unless Santos transforms into one of the elite perennial relief pitchers in the league, I highly doubt the Blue Jays will be exercising all three of those options for $6 million, $8 million and $8.75 million respectively.

Having a reliever of Santos' calibre for six years is a very valuable commodity, and one I'm sure Alex Anthopoulos prefers to signing Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell or Ryan Madson to ridiculous amounts of money.

Judging by the way the closer's market has boiled down this off-season, the price for signing free agents has been very steep ... maybe even much steeper than Alex Anthopoulos anticipated.

Trading one of your top prospects for a reliever is always risky business, but this is not something AA isn't accustomed to. Molina was highly-touted as a starter, but he must have been projected at best as a reliever. In that case, the edge goes to the Blue Jays.

With Sergio Santos, the Blue Jays get a good compromise; a reliever who has two seasons of experience in the big leagues, and who can close out games if need be. He doesn't even necessarily need to be the closer, but he more than likely will take the closer's reins for now.

Now with Zach Stewart and Nestor Molina moving from Toronto to Chicago, I'll have to keep a close eye on the White Sox starting rotation the next few seasons. It will be interesting to see what comes of both of those young arms.

In the meantime, Sergio Santos will take his post at the top of the depth chart in the Blue Jays bullpen. He will no doubt be a pleasure to watch as he misses opponents bats.

And here's a fun fact about Sergio Santos: he didn't give up an earned run on the road all season until September 3rd. In total, he only gave up five runs on the road. Talk about a road warrior!

Santos also held opponents to a .129 AVG on the road and had a 1.47 ERA away from home. Again, I might just be cherry picking stats here for the sake of making this trade look great, but Sergio Santos looks to be a fine addition to the Blue Jays bullpen.

8 comments:

  1. I'm probably reading too much into this, but is it coincidence that a few weeks before he was traded that several Jays' personnel were praising Molina? Maybe they were trying to build the hype

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  2. Wes, seems like a shrewd move to me, but it's always a possibility. If I'm the competition though, I don't alter my scouting report (even if the opposing team gives a gleaming report about that player in the media).

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  3. I'm not sure about this trade. First off, Santos is an unproven quantity with only 3 seasons as a pitcher.

    Secondly, Molina's progressed strongly through the minors with a career 1.032 WHIP and a 5.89 SO/BB rate. Like you, Ian, my reaction was why wouldn't the Jays simply give Molina the closer job (or a least a bullpen shot) out of spring training? Not to suggest Molina could be the next Craig Kimbrel but Nestor's minor league numbers (except for K/9) are all better than the minor league stats of the 2011 NL Rookie of the Year.

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  4. The Jays projected Molina as a middle of the order guy according to AA, and they have a ton of horses at his level that can eat innings in the 2-3-4 hole. They would have had to make room anyway as they all squeezed into AA/AAA ball, so when the opportunity came along to fill a hole long term, it was a no-brainer.
    Even though Molina projected as a starter, he came with more risk than Santos, who has a couple of seasons in the majors on his resume. Pretty even-steven value-wise, I would say.
    Santos will also offer immediate relief (pun intended), rather than trying to develop internal options.

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  5. I think the issue with Molina is his delivery type leads to shoulder injuries, and his delivery reminds them to much of BJ Ryan, which means he may be a stellar closer but, only for 3-4 years. Don't forget the jays do have other relief options around the same age, Carreno (is only 24).

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  6. Peckinpah, I guess in the grand scheme of things a pitcher with big league experience is better than a prospect. We'll never know if Molina will even make the bigs (even though the odds are very high that he will).
    Ultimately, Molina's sample size in AA is small even though his numbers in High A were outstanding.

    Who am I kidding ... I'm just trying to talk myself out of downplaying Molina, but to get talent you have to give up talent.

    George, it sounded like the Blue Jays might convert Molina into a reliever down the road anyway, so it makes sense to get a reliever who can pitch now rather than wait a couple more years for Molina to make the jump to the bigs.

    Psmith, I think there might be some concerns with Santos as well. Judging by his "all-out delivery", I just hope Tommy John isn't in his future.

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  7. At least we didn't get Alex Rios as a throw-in..

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  8. Tony, hey-o! Though I wouldn't be shocked if Kenny Williams was somehow trying to get rid of Rios. And here I thought that was a bad trade!

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