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 ESPN.com (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…