I do not understand how, but the Minnesota Twins managed to rid themselves of Ricky Nolasco, sending him to the Angels with Alex Meyer for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz. It’s a deeply weird trade for several reasons.
First of all, Nolasco has been bad. Signed for four years and $49 million as a free agent after a career year in 2013, Nolasco has underperformed for Minnesota from the beginning of his deal, posting a 5.44 ERA in 56 starts over three years. Like in the past, he’s had an entirely reasonable 4.20 FIP, but that’s been the story of his entire career, where his performance has vastly come up short of how statheads like me think he “should” have done. Nolasco is 33, and has one year and $13 million remaining on his deal, of which the Angels will pay $9 million.
Meyer is, at this point, a failed prospect. Topping out as the 14th ranked prospect in the game by Baseball Prospectus before 2015, Meyer has struggled with his control and his mechanics, and has spent much of 2016 on the disabled list. He’s still 6’9” and throws hard, but may never put it together either as a starter or a reliever.
In return, the Twins get Santiago, a screwball specialist who has consistently outperformed his fielding independent numbers. Santiago strikes out more batters than Nolasco, but he also walks more as well and is vulnerable to home runs. He’s a back end starter at this point, but that’s still an upgrade for the pitching starved Twins. He becomes a free agent after 2017.
Busenitz is a minor league reliever who throws hard, but doesn’t have much promise at 25. He’s been assigned to Double-A.
Unless the Angels figure out how to fix Meyer, it’s hard to see this as anything but a win for Minnesota, and perhaps a sign that Rob Antony is not overmatched by his new job. For the Angels, it’s deeply puzzling.