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December 6, 2011

BP Unfiltered

Winter Meetings Dispatch, with Some Santos Trade Thoughts

by Steven Goldman

This morning at the winter meetings, the chatter was Pujols-Marlins, Pujols-Marlins, with occasional interruptions for Marlins-Pujols. This points out an aspect of the winter meetings that is a drag: this event used to be about trades, but now it's about negotiations. I am as curious as anyone to learn where one of the all-time great ballplayers will end up, but the process of his getting here is not too different, at least from an outsider perspective, than attending a real estate closing.

Trades give you so much more to think about than free agent signings because each side is getting something. Should the Marlins sign Pujols, the Cardinals get screwed, but they don't get a player. Conversely, where we ever to get a deal like the winter 1955 swap-splosion between the Yankees and Orioles (Gene Woodling and about ten fringy guys) for Bob Turley and about six fringy guys, one of whom was Don Larsen) we would have so much to consider the whole writers room would break out in bleeding noses.

It seems unlikely to happen. The swap of Segio Santos to the Blue Jays for prospect Nestor Molina is almost that level of interesting, as the White Sox gave up an established reliever with proven stuff for a prospective starter whose minors numbers are stunning, but are more about outstanding control than dominating stuff. Is it better to have stuff without control or control without stuff? Rationally, I know the answer is that a pitcher can learn to have command but he can't learn stuff. Still, Molina's 5.9 strikeout-walk ratio is so impressive as to be worth trying. On yet a third hand (which everyone has after the local radiation leaks), that the Blue Jays would give up this paragon of painting the corners for Sergio Santos, who ain't exactly special, says something about their perception of his value, and the industry's valuation of relievers as a whole—and insofar as the latter go, it's about flippin' time.

Steven Goldman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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