DENVER, CO - JUNE 29: Pitcher Sergio Santos #46 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on June 29, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. Santos earned a save as the White Sox defeated the Rockies 3-2. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Toronto Blue Jays announced this afternoon that they've acquired relief pitcher Sergio Santos from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for starting pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Santos spent the 2011 season as Chicago's closer, and he'll presumably fill the same role for Toronto in 2012.
Santos, 28, posted a 3.55 ERA in 63 innings for the White Sox last season, converting 30 of 36 save opportunities. His peripheral statistics were fantastic, though, including a 2.69 xFIP buoyed by a strikeout rate over 13 per nine innings. Armed with a fastball that touches 98 and a impressive power slider, he's quickly established himself as one of the game's top relievers since converting from shortstop a couple years ago.
Molina, 22 in January, was rated as the No. 2 prospect in Toronto's system by John Sickels recently, although other prospect evaluators are admittedly not as bullish on the right-hander. Molina spent last year split between High Single-A and Double-A, posting a 2.21 ERA and 148/16 K/BB over 130 innings. He's a command-first guy, though, so it's not totally clear whether his stuff will continue to confound hitters at higher levels.
Frankly, this is a great deal by Toronto, and a pretty mediocre one by Chicago. Santos is an elite-level reliever signed very cheaply, owed just $8.25 million through 2014 plus club options worth $22.75 million for 2015 through 2017. It's a very team-friendly long-term deal, so it's surprising that the White Sox couldn't get more when relievers are going on the free agent market for so much money.
Molina is a good prospect but not a top-level one, and I would think that they should be able to command something better. It's another astute, impressive move by Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous, though, who continues to prove that he's among the elite baseball executives today.
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