The Jays have finally found a long-term option for closer, acquiring Chicago’s Sergio Santos for minor league pitching prospect Nestor Molina. It’s a risky trade for the Jays, given that Molina put up excellent numbers in the minors. He was able to strike out nearly a batter an inning in the minors, while showing control that would have impressed even Halladay. However, scouts and evaluators are torn as to whether Molina will make it as a starter, so the Jays might have sold high with Molina’s value at his peak.
Still, this is fantasy baseball, so we’ll put aside Molina’s potential and focus on the guys who will help us for 2012. Granted, Molina might make an impact in the second half of 2012, but if he does, it’ll be as a middle reliever.
Sergio Santos – He was going to be a closer regardless of what happens, but now we know he’ll be doing it for the Jays. Santos was an infield prospect with the Jays, originally acquired with Troy Glaus for Orlando Hudson & Miguel Bautista. He was picked up by the White Sox, who converted the Shortstop with a cannon to a relief pitching role. He picked it up quickly, aided by his 95 MPH fastball. Over two seasons the right hander has shown the ability to strike out hitters (11.6 K/9) despite a lack of control (4.3 BB/9).
Santos gets a bump in value just for leaving the rebuilding White Sox. It’s unlikely that Chicago would have been able to provide as many save opportunities as the Jays, so as long as Santos is healthy he’s a lock for 30+ saves. He likely would have remained the closer with Chicago, but there was always the chance someone like Matt Thornton could have been used which would have lowered Santos’ save opportunities.
Fantasy Prediction: 2.95 ERA, 80 strikeouts, 1.16 WHIP, 37 saves, 3 wins.
Matt Thornton -Thornton is likely to be first in line to get saves for the White Sox. He was originally given the chance in 2011, but he blew it. He’s been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball the past few seasons, posting a 2.84 ERA, averaging nearly 11 strikeouts per 9 innings while walking only 3 per 9 since 2008. Extremely impressive numbers, and ones that should make him a dominant closer if the White Sox go in that direction.
Addison Reed – The White Sox just keep pumping out one dynamic reliever after the other. Reed is the newest toy for Robin Ventura, striking out hitters at a greater rate than even Santos himself! In fairness, Reed only pitched 7 1/3 innings, but his minor league record is showing that this is no fluke. If he starts off the season with a bang, it’s possible that Reed may find himself in the closer role very quickly. The Sox have shown they’re not afraid to go with rookies in the closer role, as Bobby Jenks, Chris Sale and Santos have all been given opportunities to close early in their careers.
Keep your eye out for Reed, as he’s got a chance to put up similar numbers to Santos as early as next season.