This afternoon the Jays sent high-end prospect Nestor Molina to the White Sox for closer Sergio Santos– a steep price for a 60-inning guy if Molina can hack it as a starter with anything close to resembling the success he had in minors this year, but one that you get the feeling might just work out quite nicely for the Jays.

That’s because there was, last month, from both John Farrell and Sal Fasano, talk of converting Molina into a closer– potentially one who could pitch in the Majors as soon as 2012. If that’s all they viewed Molina as– and some think he may not have the delivery or the stuff to be more– then giving up six years of control for six years of control of a established reliever with fantastic stuff may be worth it. And if they place a premium on contributions made in the next couple of seasons, rather than down the road, where Molina would– ideally– have been one of many stellar arms in the organization, the deal makes even more sense.

That’s my take, at least. The reactions elsewhere are quite varied.

Big Molina-backer Kevin Gray tweets: “Memo to Jays: Do you want to save money or win games? Don’t tell me the Molina trade is good because of Sergio’s contract.”

I guess he means he thinks the Jays should have saved the prospect and just spent money on a closer. I’d agree if I didn’t think that the going rate for closers wasn’t thoroughly fucking ridiculous– or if I didn’t have confidence that the Jays still have a bunch of great arms in the system, and an inkling that the club wasn’t as high on Molina as some of the evaluators whose reports assholes have been fluffing fans’ expectations with for the last few weeks (guilty as charged!).

Some comments from Alex Anthopoulos have started filtering out, and Shi Davidi tweets that the GM told reporters that he wouldn’t have traded a highly regarded prospect like Molina for someone who didn’t have similar years of control.

Jon Morosi of Fox Sports also tweets that the Jays have saved money here by keeping themselves out of the free agent market for closers. “Could they spend big elsewhere?”

Perhaps. However, Mike Wilner adds via Twitter that Anthopoulos mentioned “payroll parameters several times.” There’s no unlimited budget here, he says.

Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star likes the deal for Santos, “as long as he is not the promised one as the 2012 closer.”

No, really. Griffin wrote that– though I’m not sure why. Sure, Santos had a rough September, driven by a .450 BABIP, but his strikeout and walk rates were about the same as other months, and his xFIP was 2.11. He’ll be fine, and Anthopoulos says he’s the closer– capital C.

He didn’t give up an earned run on the road until September, tweets the Blue Jay Hunter.

Gregor Chisholm tweets that Anthopoulos says there were some “heated debates” about this one, and that it took a while for everyone to wrap their head around it, but that it ultimately made sense.

Frank Francisco, the twittering reporters add, won’t be back.

Keith Law breaks down the trade at (Insider only), calling Molina “maybe their sixth-best pitching prospect” and concluding that for the White Sox “the return seems a little light for a major league reliever signed to a very affordable three-year deal,” even if Molina may now be the best of their bad bunch.

“It is the start of rebuilding,” White Sox GM Ken Williams says, according to ESPN Chicago.

“I would hope that we give him a little bit more seasoning, but he’s got the kind of ability,” Williams added, according to the Chicago Tribune. “We got certain guys with abilities that will force their way onto major league rosters and when you look at a young pitcher, you look at what kind of stuff he has, what kind of composure he has and his ability to command the strike zone and this guy does it in a way that very few do, so I’m not going to say he can’t or won’t.”

Eno Sarris at FanGraphs says that it’s the uncertainty about Molina that makes this trade even. “Molina may be a starter, or he may be a reliever. Scouts are divided on his stuff — is he a pitchability guy that has great control and decent stuff, or is he something more — and it’s even possible that a little recoil in his delivery might send him to the bullpen, in which case the value on this trade shifts towards Toronto.”

Sarris added some interesting musings about rebuilding, and the fact that the Sox have probably traded their best piece first– a smart move that now allows them to start sifting through the lowball offers that will inevitably follow. Perhaps the Jays and Sox aren’t done– Anthopoulos exchanged a lot of names with Ken Williams, and traded with him this summer. There’s familiarity there.

Kenny Ken Ken Rosenthal tweets that one GM told him that his scouts project Molina as a reliever. “If so, not good.”

I’ll keep my eye out for more…

Comments (48)

  1. This is one of those trades that’ll be impossible to really say who won for a few years at least, but at first glance it looks good for both sides. The best part is probably that we won’t have to hear about “The Jays are interested in proven free agent closer X” bullshit for 6 years, if everything goes as planned. That alone is almost worth it.

  2. Love the trade….. That’s what stocking the farm system was meant to do….  I still think Fielder is going to be our Christmas present…..  It’s setting up that way -

  3. Keep hearing about payroll issues. Be nice if the reporters actually pried a little deeper on that one since it doesn’t jive in the least with everything Beeston has been saying.

    “Perhaps, however, Mike Wilner adds, via Twitter, that Anthopoulos mentioned “payroll parameters several times.” There’s no unlimited budget here, he says.”

  4. The only thing I’m worried about is the typical closer stuff ie random variation from year to year. Santos had a crazy WHIP in 2010 so you have to ask who the real Santos is.

    But I love the contract and love what they gave up. It’s insane how quickly fans fall in love with someone they’ve never seen pitch.

    News flash: The team is still loaded with pitching and they are guys who project much better than Molina

  5. Depends, if the Jays were semi-confident in having Molina play last season and were thinking of him as a potential closer for this year, who is say Chicago doesn’t bring up sooner rather than later? We could know by the end of the year if the bullpen is AA’s achilles heel when it comes to making trades. Right now I’d say it’s a toss up and I have that reinforced by the splits in the Jays front office regarding the deal.

  6. Molina was first on John Sickels’ top prospects list but I think this is the money quote about that placement:

    The thing here is that I think Molina’s stuff is underrated and I have reports that are more enthusiastic than a lot of things you see publically available. I realize that putting Molina number one bucks consensus. The rumors that Molina may move to back to relief, if confirmed, might change the ranking by the time the book is ready to publish.

    If Molina ends up as a reliever, this was a ginormous steal for the Blue Jays. If he sticks as a starter, it’ll be kinda fun to see how the White Sox rotation performs with him and Zack Stewart in it.

  7. i would have rather them spent money on a closer and used Molina to get a starter.  if jays are looking for a proven SP they most likely need to deal a SP prospect…

  8. 2010 was his first full year as a pitcher, at any level. I’d say the real Santos is still developing.

  9. Even though we may not care too much about Santos’ contract as fans – it’s probably worth nothing that it really adds to his value if the Jays would ever want to flip him down the line.  I doubt you could get much for Bell, Madson of Papelbon in a year or two if you wanted to flip them.

  10. I hope he makes it to the Sox rotation, but we’ll have to wait a bit before we get to see it. If they’re not contending (KW says they’re rebuilding, but anything’s possible in that division), there’s no reason not to have Molina begin the season in AA, with an early move to AAA if he continues to dominate. But why start his clock in 2012 if you don’t have to?

  11. You missed the best comment. Kenny Williams said that Molina can throw up to 96 mph.

  12. From Jason Stark
    #Rockies continue to dangle Huston Street to multiple teams. Telling teams they’re willing to eat all $ for prospects.

    Hmmmm do the Jays step up to the plate again and get one more arm for prospects since the money is right? lol

  13. If we just saved $20 million, or whatever, lets go an throw that money at Prince Fielder!

  14. No thanks. I’d rather they dangle their prospects for a high end starter now.

  15. It will be interesting to see what it takes to get Street, Bailey and Soria (if some of them are moved)… I assume the Jays checked in on all of them..

  16. Agreed I’ll love this Santos deal a lot more after they upgrade the rotation. Still their biggest problem imo other than not having a 2nd basemen obviously. Having the greatest pen in the world is fine but kind of a waste if you’re starters are barely getting out of the 5th on a regular basis after giving up 5 or 6 runs.

  17. from kenny ken ken:

    One rival GM told me that his scouts project new #WhiteSox prospect Molina as reliever. If so, not good.

  18. I think getting Santos was much better than getting Paplebon, or Madson because Santos is younger, cheaper and his arm has a LOT less mileage on it. He could be a dominant reliever for the duration of his team friendly deal. It’s a nice pickup. Now we need a starter. On a completely unrelated not: I wonder if Cecil will get his fastball back this year? Like how Brandon League’s disappeared for a year. Even Halladay had a year where his velocity was down around 89-91 (and his K-rate went down as well). But it came back to 91-94 the year after. Just a thought.

  19. (I meant note)

  20. So where  does everyone think the Jays starting rotation ranks in a group consisting of the Yanks, Sox (with a healthly Buchholz), Rays, Tiger, Rangers, Angels and A’s if the season started tomorrow?

  21. I really hope AA is lying to us all about 5 year deals…

    “It’s not a lie, If I know the truth”

  22. Finally a good post regarding revenue and payroll and the CBA.

    On salaries and payroll going foward:
    “That was a factor. When you look at the salaries over six years, it’s not a bottomless pit. If it was it would be different. It’s like going out to eat and looking at the menu, you don’t even look at the prices on the right-hand side.

    “We have to, it’s part of what we’re doing.
    Ownership has been great, we’ve spent a lot of money on the draft,
    especially when you look at where we’ve been attendance-wise and what we
    spent on payroll. I have parameters to work within and that’s fine. That makes sense. And if there’s certain cases, I can make my case to Paul. Trying to fit all those things in and build a sustainable team, that’s the challenge.”
    On the loss of income via revenue sharing:
    not impacting us in ’12, but I think in ’13 and beyond it’s going to
    impact us, certainly we’re going to be receiving less.
    I don’t get involved in those conversations with accounting, but
    there’s no question that’s going to be phased out and we’re going to
    lose dollars there. I’m sure that has some type of bearing and impact.
    On team payroll year-to-year
    “I understand it all depends on how we do in attendance, things like that. My thought is being able to know what a floor is going forward as a parameter, but it’s never set in stone.
    I’m always given a, ‘this is an area I’d like it to be’ and if there’s
    something we need to go over for … with certain cases we’ll jump up
    beyond that. There’s no questions that there’s areas I’ve been asked to be, and I can work within those areas. Whatever I’m handed to work with, I can make it work.”imo that should probably put to rest about any talk of signing any decent free agents anytime soon. They Jays are going to have to win with what they have or what they can get via trades and hope attendance goes up for more revenue to support a bigger payroll.

  23.  AA and Williams seem to be developing a good trading relationship…  You have to think that they’ve discussed a Gordon Beckham trade as well.

  24. Ugh sorry for the formatting it’s always a roll of the dice when I copy and paste here.

  25. It’s between them and the Yankees as to which is the worst. CC > RR…and after that it’s all question marks on both sides. So I give the Yanks the slight edge, especially since you know they’ll spend to fix the issue.

    The other teams are far better.

  26. If the Sox are rebuilding, maybe they would be inclined to hold on to Beckham longer to see if he’ll pan out.  You’d imagine they’d want to unload their older guys.  Quentin?

  27. This to me is really code speak for the following..

    “Look man, we have to deal in reality.  The reality is we must win FIRST and then we can increase our payroll up into the higher levels of the league..because at that point the market we operate in will sustain such a payroll.  After all, the company I work for doesnt really care about baseball or putting out a winning team so much as they look at this team strictly as an investment.  If I can earn them enough money on the cheap, it doesnt really matter if we win.  The reality of the situation is however, that they know and I know that winning will allow them to make more from their we arent going to be talking about a payroll fixed in the 60 million range….but the idea that this team would have a 120 million dollar payroll any time in the next fiver years is a pipe dream…”

  28. I’m sick of hearing this. That payroll is tied to attendence. That’s putting the cart before the horse.
    Winning –> attendence, not vice versa.
    The Jays’ blogosphere is more vibrant than most other teams out there, as far as I can tell. There’s an active core of young people buzzing about the team. People are waiting for the team to be in the playoffs to spend money. I already spend my damn money on this stupid product, so I guess that makes me a sucker.
    My point is: there is a bubbling under right now. The obvious catalyst is winning. It isn’t up to the fans to come out and pay for a losing team – LEafs fans recognize that as a recipe for life-long futility – if Rogers wants the people’s money, they’re going to have to invest themselves.

    Rogers has basically been living the myth of the shaking lady downtown toronto – preying upon people’s sympathies, taking their money,  and then driving home to a mansion.

  29. I agree, but the ChiSox just traded Santos who (while being 28 years old) has relatively little mileage on his arm and has been signed to a long term team-friendly contract… Santos is not the typical type of player that one would expect a rebuilding team to unload either.

  30. Personally I like this deal, just because of the fact that I won’t have to listen to the dickhead Chicago broadcaster when he says  “This game is OVUH…” what an idiot..

  31. And we didn’t get Alex Rios as a throw-in!!

  32. Personally I’d rather give 24 million to someone like Kuroda for 2 years than 8-10 million to a K-Rod for one or even worse 30+ to Madson for 3.

    Trading for Santos and putting that money into a starter gives you much better bang for the buck.

  33. Reality is: there is a good correlation between payroll and winning (also: #winning).

    The reality is that $120million payroll is not even close to the 70% of the Yankees payroll that the Jays were spending when Rogers took over. It’s only 63% of the “magic number” of 189million, being floated as the luxury tax threshold.

    If Rogers isn’t going to spend to win, then the fans should give them all the signals that they want them to sell the team.

    There’s an elite player out there who is 27 y.o. and no real competition to drive up bidding on him. He fills a position of need now and in the near future (with no big bats in the system).

    Reality is: the ownership of this team does not care about winning. That’s the signal we get. Sports fans SHOULD care about winning. That’s why they’re called fanatics…not ‘observers’ or ‘enthusiasts’.

  34. I don’t thing anyone disagrees with you however, the bean counters definitely have the last say.  I think a player like Fielder would do wonders for attendance with the type of team the Jays have now unlike the Clemens situation a few years ago.

  35. Direct action is effective.
    Not buying non-fair trade coffee has led major chains like starbucks to carry it, despite it being more expensive, for example.

    Not buying Rogers other products could lead them to investing more in the baseball team.

    I mean, one person doing that – no. But thousands…yes. If 1000 people switch their Rogers services to other companies that`s about a million dollars per year that they lose.

    Now, that might seem like a lot. But a boycott campaign can do more damage to them in terms of optics than the immediate bottom line. (at least right away).

    we`re consumers of their product, so basically, they`re in a position where they happen to provide a lot of prooducts that many of us might be better off getting elsewhere.

    instead of trying to get fans to BUY the team, this is a way of controlling the team without doing that. we already own the team because we buy their internet, cable, phones, rent their movies, etc.

    believe me, it wouldn`t be hard to influence rogers – and the sports team is a good way to do it.

    personally, i have more issue with their terrible internet packages than i do with their baseball team, but 2 birds – 1 stone.

  36. $1m salary for 2011… seems as though the savings of approx $9m/year over a free agent could mitigate a one time sunk cost such as a posting fee, no?

  37. Seems like a Prince of a trade….

  38. I don’t have a problem with Rogers tying spending to revenue, so long as they’re being honest about where that revenue comes from. This basing the revenue year to year on attendance thing is bullshit, because it distracts from the significant advantage the Jays yield over all kinds of markets – broadcast. So the big broadcast empire can use attendance as a strawman to distract from the fact that they’re rolling in ad-revenue off 507K average viewers. That’s my problem with what AA was saying. The Rangers aren’t loading up on big contracts because people are finally going to see the games again. They’re loading up because ownership negotiated a massive broadcast deal.

  39. Rogers is not going to be spending big money on payroll.  They will allow AA to spend his money on more efficient venues such as scouting and the player draft where the perception is that “the team is spending alot of shut up when it comes to them being cheap” 

    Only that is really bullshit.  Those are nickels and dimes compared to what it costs to get high level major league proven talent. 

    And Im not saying that what AA is doing is is the ONLY effective way a team with a limited payroll can operate.  He’s doing a fine job.

    lets just admit now that this team is and for the foreseeable future will have to operate under the rules of a small market, low budget team.  dem’s the facts. 

  40. Wasn’t Santos one of the guys we suspected was accusing the Jays of cheating by sending signals to hitters from the outfield? I seem to remember his name coming up.

  41. I thought the way they viewed and scouts viewed this Molina kid that he’s santos at worst in the major leagues he’s are number two prospect from alot of people.

    Santos had one good year and if were not competeing this year then why do we need a closer.
    I was all for Molina being our closer and then in the future starting rotation.

    I dont get this trade. I think Molina could be Santos this year so why do the trade.

  42. Can we not forget about the fact that this, in all likelihood, takes Frank Fucking Fransisco out of the closer equation which is a) awesome because he’s balls, and b) good because it will net the Jays a supplemental pick when he signs elsewhere. 

    I sure as fuck did not want to see Francisco back with the Jays as their closer on raise; even if it was just for one year. I’d much rather loose H.Molina and gain Santos on a flexible deal along with an early pick.

  43. I”ve seen a little youtube on Molina I think he looks pretty fucking good I’m not a cout but most scouts have Molina ranked higher then Santos ever was as a pitcher.

  44. Any thought to Santos as a starter?  Why not?  If starter’s are clearly more valuable, why not give Santos a shot at it.  I am guessing he has never tried but he has tried relieving and the results have been incredible.  Why limit him to 60 inning a year. 

  45. On Santos and the closer market:
    KLaw: I was with the Blue Jays when we traded for him the first time, when he was a position player, a shortstop who couldn’t actually play shortshop. But I saw Santos his first spring training with the White Sox, he’d just been converted to pitching and he came in and he threw nothing but fastballs. So I walked out of the park thinking, “Well, that’s interesting, it’ll be a couple years before we see him again and they’ll probably send him to A-ball or double-A and make him work on a second pitch.”
    He shows up a year later and he’s got this wipeout slider, that was absolutely un– one of the most unhittable sliders in baseball this year — and I think, uh, that’s the same, as long as he stays healthy — a lot of these conversion guys do get hurt eventually. As long as he stays healthy [muffled] can want to use him it [note: presumably referring to the closer role]. And it allowed Toronto to stay out of that free agent closer market. He didn’t have to overpay for [muffled] like Madson. That’s not Alex Anthopoulos’s strategy. If he’s going to spend, he’s going to spend on a middle of the order bat, or a guy who plays the middle of the diamond, contributes both ways, he’s not going to give nine, ten million a year to a 65 inning closer.

    On the Jays signing Fielder:
    KLaw: If they’re not going over five years, it strikes me as extremely unlikely.
    Stark: Look, I think if you got Alex in a private spot and said, “Alex, you think Prince Fielder wants to be in Toronto?” We know how he’d answer, he’d tell you, “Prince ain’t coming here.”
    KL: Right.
    JS: But the Blue Jays do have money to spend. And actually, the new labor deal, it’s interesting, I’m not sure exactly how it affects their interest in spending it, but they’re definitely interested in being good, competing in that division. When you add a second wild card, it gives them a chance to build a team not to win 95 or 98 games, which is the way Alex has been talking–
    KL: Right.
    JS: But now, if you win 89 games, you’ve got a real good chance to win one of those wild cards.
    KL: They’re not far away, either. If they could just add — hypothetically, if they could just add Fielder or Pujols, for one year — they’re immediate contenders. The problem is you have to pay the six, seven years beyond that. But just adding that bat to that lineup, ignoring the contract, makes them an extremely exciting team, really for the next year or two. It’s just they dont want to pay the piper at the end of those contracts.

    On Sergio Santos not being regarded as available:
    KL: I assumed he was one of the guys they [the White Sox] would keep. Because he [Kenny Williams] talked about keeping the kids. Not that I mean that Santos is that young.
    JS: But, controllable!
    KL: Exactly, no money, doesn’t have a lot of major league experience. I figured he was on the list of guys they would keep.

    On Nestor Molina’s value to the Sox:
    KL: How about, they just picked up Nestor Molina from the Blue Jays, who we didn’t talk about before, who’s [now] probably their best prospect.
    JS: They like him.
    KL: And he might have been tenth in the Blue Jays system, maybe not even in the top 10.

  46. I should add, this was from the live stream at the meetings with Jayson Stark, 4 pm CST.

  47. Kevin Goldstein is one guy that isn’t a big fan of Molina.  He mentioned seeing Molina as being “the stuff of a number three, if he even sticks as a starter” on a podcast about a month back.  Seems like the stats don’t tell the whole story and like we were able to sell high.

  48. Also, does anybody see all of the hype from Fasano as part of a plan to increase Molina’s stock to deal him?  I wouldn’t put it past AA to have had this type of deal in mind the entire time that he’s singing Molina’s praises.

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