We're miles and kilometres and then some away from the action in Dallas, so all of our Winter Meetings observations are being made through eyes that are straining to keep up with every tweet and bleep that pops across our screen. Most of this is conjecture and speculation at this point, but we'd offer a few thoughts that have coalesced here, far from the action.
Big Deal! Jays trade Nestor Molina for Sergio Santos: This deal popped up just as we were about to joke about the lack of action, so it goes to show what we know.
The curious aspect of this deal is the fact that Santos is returning to the Jays after having been in the organization as the prospect thrown into the Troy Glaus deal. We remember subsequently seeing Santos as a SS-converted-to-3B with the Syracuse SkyChiefs, and thinking that while he had a great build, the finer skills (infield footwork and strikezone judgment) eluded him.
In his new role as a power reliever, we'll confess to having a twinge of jealousy having watched him evolve into a big nasty hurler who throws mid-to-high 90's with a nasty slider. So there is some satisfaction in repatriating him. We love those crazy strikeout per nine numbers (13.01!), though the high walk totals (4.12 per nine) might have a tougher time playing in the AL East. (Where umpires defer their decision on close pitches to the Red Sox and Yankees' batters. Bitter!)
The cost - 22 year-old Nestor Molina - is probably a little higher than we'd have liked, especially since we'd started to consider him as THE pitching prospect in the Jays' system. Still, Santos is signed to a very club-friendly deal (three years, $8.25 million with club options that could make it six years and $30 million), and we'd guess that in spite of an all-out delivery, his arm doesn't have that much wear and tear on it. Yet.
Mostly, though, this is the "proven closer" deal for which the casual fans clamoured. Are you happy?
And now, second base: The main observation that we'd had before the Santos news broke was how many potential second base names were being floated as possibilities for the Jays.
We'd mentioned the White Sox' Gordon Beckham as a possibility last week, and part of our subsequent reaction to the Santos deal was that it likely closed the door on more dealings with the Southsiders. However, intrepid Fan 590 radio reporter Mike Wilner tweeted that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos mentioned that other deals between the two teams are still being discussed.
Aside from that, the names of the Braves' Martin Prado and Angels' Alberto Callaspo have been mentioned as possibilities through the digital scuttlebutt. We've got a soft spot for both players - they often make their way onto our MLB The Show franchises - and both are cheap and controllable, which is something for which Anthopoulos has a sweet spot. Callaspo made $2 million last year, and has two more arbitration years remaining, while Prado is in the same situation and made $3.1 million. (All contract details come from Cot's Baseball Contracts. Much thanks and praise to them.)
Another aspect of their games that Prado and Callaspo share is that they are jacks of all trades in the field, though masters of none. In fact, both do quite poorly in UZR/150's assessment of their work up the middle, with Callaspo posting a -6.8 for his career and Prado even worse, at -8.4. (Callaspo had great numbers at third base, but given how antsy we feel about UZR in the first place, we're not certain whether if that is as a result of a flaw in the formula,for better or worse.)
The other name popping up was the Mets' 26 year-old Daniel Murphy, who posted a very respectable line of .362 OBP/.448 SLG/.809 OPS in 2011. On the other hand, it seems as though the Mets have tried to hide him all over the diamond, and might we remind you that they thought so highly of Murphy's second base word last year that they started the season with Brad Emaus as their everyday option?
All of this discussion is academic should Kelly Johnson accept arbitration by midnight
Because we know you're obsessed, a thought on Fielder: We'd actually started to cave earlier this week, and started to make the argument for going to get Prince Fielder. For the right deal, we supposed, he might just be worth the risk. And with it possibly being a buyers market, couldn't the Jays manage to get him on a shorter (i.e. five-year) deal?
But where this falls apart in our mind is that we suspect that any deal that the Jays could make, the Brewers could and would match. We're finding it hard to imagine the Jays finding the minute point of distinction that would be within their means and their philosophy but above the Brewers' capacity.
And besides, the Cubs and Cardinals might both be looking for a big first base bat, and we suspect that both would go six years or more at top dollar for the big man.