The Chicago White Sox have begun trading pieces well ahead of general manager Kenny Williams’ suggestions he would wait until January to see how the team looked. The White Sox have very few pieces other teams would deem valuable, but got rid of one of them earlier today when they traded 2011 closer Sergio Santos to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor league starting pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Santos claimed the closer role after Matt Thornton and Chris Sale struggled to hold the position and recorded 30 saves in 36 opportunities last season. According to Blue Jays general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, he will take over the closer role for the Toronto Blue Jays who had multiple players record saves for them in 2011.
Santos, who turns 29 in July, is signed for the next three seasons at a total cost of $8.25 million. His contract contains multiple team options which could keep him under control through 2017. Here are Santos’ stats.
Santos throws a fastball which averaged 95.2 mph in 2011 per Pitchf/x and his slider is his most effective pitch. He had a fantastic SO/9 rate last season (13.1), but his was just as wild with 4.1 BB/9. He was able to limit runs by not allowing many base hits due in part to a very low .269 BABIP against. His BABIP in 2010 was a lofty .345. So the Blue Jays should expect something in the middle if they are trying to guess.
Santos’ ERA doesn’t exactly shine, but his xFIP was 2.69 and his SIERA was 2.25 in 2011 tells us his standard numbers could be better and his success last season was not a fluke.
As we discuss Santos in terms to his contract, the Blue Jays have hit a home run considering they were fairly desperate for a closer. With the free agent market set so high by Jonathan Papelbon and Heath Bell signings, the Jays really are getting the most out of their dollar with little risk. In 2011, Santos’ 1.6 WAR equated to $7.3 million in value to the White Sox according to FanGraphs. This is just over $4.56 million per 1 WAR. With Santos set to make $8.25 million over the next 3 seasons, the Blue Jays should make out on the deal if Santos produces remotely similar numbers. Considering 5% yearly inflation on top of the $4.56 million per 1 WAR in 2011 for each of the next three seasons and Santos needs to only generate just over 1.8 WAR TOTAL for the Jays to break even. He could manage that in one season let alone three. I would say this is a fairly safe bet that the Jays have made.
The move does not come without some consequences for the Blue Jays. They traded away a surprising young minor league starter, Nestor Molina. Molina is a 22 year-old right-hander who was converted to a starter in 2011 with fantastic results. He was 10-3 with a 2.58 ERA (2.45 FIP) for A+ ball and then started 5 games in AA with great results as well (2-0, 0.41 ERA). Keith Law projects Molina to be a mid-rotation of high end reliever when he reaches the majors. He also notes that Molina may now be the best prospect in the White Sox system.
To try and pick a winner here may prove difficult on the face of the trade as there are many factors which will fold out over the next couple seasons. Santos is a very good get for the Blue Jays especially considering the fact he is under contract for a great price. Yes, relievers come and go and thus the Jays going after a low-cost high upside option versus spending too much on the free agent market. The White Sox, may know they are giving up a little more than they are getting in return now, but this may not matter much to Williams as he seems set to put the White Sox into rebuilding mode for the foreseeable future. So, the Jays may get the best of this initially but let’s see how Molina progresses and if Santos can remain productive before proclaiming a winner.
For more on the White Sox and Blue Jays check out Southside Showdown and Jays Journal. Follow Call to the Pen on Twitter at @FSCalltothePen or ‘Like’ here on Facebook. Christopher Carelli can be followed on Twitter at @BaseballStance.