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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. 
Click here to see Steven's other articles. You can contact Steven by clicking here

5 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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jj0501

I"m thinking last year's Napoli/Wells fiasco made a number of GM's extremely risk averse. No one wants to be on the losing end of the next big swap.

Dec 06, 2011 13:23 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

While Santos might not be exactly special, he's much better (and cheaper) than an average reliever and that has value. On the other hand, it's the kind of move you'd make if you were planning on contending in the short term since Santos himself doesn't turn the Jays into a better team than the Yankees/Rays/Red Sox

Dec 06, 2011 17:10 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

It should also be pointed out that the word in the Blue Jays blogosphere had it that the Jays were seriously considering Molina as a future closer candidate. So they essentially traded a potential future closer for a now closer who, as a SS convert, has a young arm (then again, so was Molina) and who is locked up at very reasonable numbers for the next three years plus three option years.

Dec 06, 2011 20:16 PM
rating: 0
 
jtwalsh

Santos's numbers exceeded his contributions to thw White Sox cause last year. He was a closer in that he pitched the ninth. He will not be mistaken for Mariano Rivera. When called to close out cames when the White Sox were in the hunt, Santos did not deliver what you would expect out of a "capital C" closer. Flipping him for value is a good thing. I just hope that Molina is value. I do trust in Don Cooper to refine other teams pitching prospects.

Dec 07, 2011 08:07 AM
rating: 0
 
onegameref

I thought the Sox should have been able to pry more from the Jays for the "established" closer but KW doesn't seem to have much stomach for negotiating with rivals. He appears willing to accept the first offer with no counter. It makes me wonder if Reinsdorf let the wrong leader depart last fall.

Dec 07, 2011 13:36 PM
rating: 0
 
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