Griffin: Jays acquire Sergio Santos from White Sox
DALLAS-The Blue Jays on Tuesday made their first significant player move of the winter meetings, alarmingly reverting to the same frugal, cost-efficient thought processes that got them to this point, acquiring 28-year-old reliever Sergio Santos from the White Sox for highly touted starting pitcher prospect, Nestor Molina.
According to the Jays, the closer's role for 2012 is now settled, maybe even for Santos's next six controllable years.
"Right now, we're in a good place, but we do have parameters to work with," Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos said.
"We're trying to build a competitive team that will be good for a long period of time with the parameters that we do have, when you look at the salaries over six years. It's not a bottomless pit. If it was it would be different."
Santos, a former minor-league shortstop, had some impressive numbers with the White Sox in 2011, but he faded in the second half with the increased workload and marathon nature of the season. The native of Bellflower, Calif., was 4-5, with a 3.55 ERA and 30 saves in 63 games. He had 92 strikeouts in just 63-1/3 innings, allowing 41 hits. His strikeout rate of 13.07 per nine innings ranked top five in the AL.
Santos has just two seasons as a pitcher in the majors leagues and in an ideal situation, building to the apex of his strong-armed career, would be best served starting off in 2012 as the eighth-inning option to an established major-league closer. Anthopoulos disagrees that he could have had more established lights-out closing from elsewhere.
"I think Santos would give us the same, with the potential for more," Anthopoulos stated with confidence. "I think there's a greater ceiling there. There's still some guys out there that are very good and obviously there's uncertainty in the relief market, but just his stuff and the dominance of knowing that we have him. The age, relative to the others. The years of control, the three options, it just makes a lot of sense for us. It allows us to re-allocate funds in some other areas."
Hey, what happened to the $110-120 million that Paul Beeston insisted was a reality if they needed it to compete in 2012? That number was not out of thin air. It was a quote from the club president as late as mid-October. He was asked if that upper-edge total included bonuses for June draft picks and international signings. He said: "No. That's strictly for major-league payroll this year." But now Anthopoulos scoffs at those that reported it meaning that they are back to trying to emulate the Rays model again. The CBA has clearly bitten them in the butt and changed the way they plan to compete.
"It's not impacting us in 2012," Anthopoulos said. "But I think in '13 and beyond it's going to impact us. Certainly we're going to be receiving less. Again, I don't get involved in those conversations, or accounting, but there's no question that's going to be phased out and we're going to lose dollars there. And I'm sure that has some type of bearing, impact."
Santos is signed for the next three seasons guaranteed at $7.50 million, plus a $0.75 million buyout for each of three option years from 2015-17 for $6, $8 and $8.75 million. The maximum value of the deal is $30.25 million, while the minimum is $9.75 million.
Molina, 22, came on strong in 2011, splitting his time between A-Dunedin and AA-New Hampshire, elbowing his way into the conversation as a potential member of the pitching staff at some point during the 2012 season, either as a starter or in relief.
Molina at the two minor-league stops combined for a 12-3 record and a 2.21 ERA in 26 games -- 23 starts. Molina was signed by the Jays as a position player out of Venezuela, before converting to the mound in 2008.
In every conversation with the Jays this off-season, Molina's name was mentioned along with Henderson Alvarez, Drew Hutchison and Deck McGuire as starters in waiting. The Jays as far as young starting pitchers are dealing from a position of strength.