The Tigers may be having plenty of talks with agents and other clubs, but there doesn’t appear to be anything that’s about to break with them.
Two other AL Central teams, however, have started dealing.
In a bit of a surprise move, the White Sox this morning in Dallas traded their closer, Sergio Santos, to the Blue Jays for starting pitching prospect Nestor Molina.
Santos, a converted shortstop, had a really fine season in 2011, his second year in the majors — and his first as the closer. He struck out 92 in 63.1 innings, held opponents to a .181 batting average, and converted 30 of 38 save opportunities.
The Blue Jays and their GM, Alex Anthopoulos, have been linked to numerous free-agent closers this offseason, but have opted for a young (28), cheapish ($8.25 million due for 2012-14) alternative. He will slide right into the Blue Jays’ closer role, though there had been some speculation he’d be a setup man in Toronto, a role he did so well in Chicago in 2010.
The White Sox, meanwhile, get in return Molina, a 22-year-old right-hander who Anthopoulos projects as a middle-of-the-order major league starter — or even better.
He had a sensational 2011 season, going 12-3 with a 2.21 ERA between stops at high Single A and Double A. It’s a sensible pickup for the White Sox, who apparently don’t have a ton of blue-chip talent in the minor leagues. They also are bracing for the certain departure of free-agent left-hander Mark Buehrle.
White Sox GM Kenny Williams, no question, believed the team could part with Santos, because there are other internal closing options, among them hard-throwing lefties Matt Thornton and Chris Sale. Thornton, originally, was believed to the reliever being shopped. He may stay now.
A couple other White Sox stars might not, however.
Williams, with an overextended budget and a ballclub with serious holes at the minor and major league level, acknowledged the Santos deal is the start of the rebuilding process.
There have been rumblings all offseason that left-hander John Danks and right-hander Gavin Floyd are being shopped. Both could net the White Sox quality prospects from teams unwilling to spend big on the Edwin Jacksons, Buehrles and Roy Oswalts of the baseball world. Slugging Chicago outfielder Carlos Quentin is a hot commodity, too.
The Twins, meanwhile, also are keeping busy at the posh Hilton Anatole. Today, they traded starting pitcher Kevin Slowey to the Rockies for a player to be named, and earlier re-signed closer Matt Capps to a one-year, $4.75 million deal.
Slowey, 27, a right-hander, won 35 games from 2008-10, but started experiencing elbow issues in 2010. And this past season was an asbolute disaster. He was 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA. He lost all eight of his starts, and opponents hit .321 off him.
Capps, 28, had a career year in 2010, but only was a serviceable closer in 2011 while Joe Nathan worked his way back to full strength following Tommy John surgery. You’d think the Capps signing was a sign that the Twins again will go cheap this winter. After all, the closer market has plenty of options more appealing than Capps, who’ll be the most beatable closer in the division.
That said, there are rumblings new Twins GM Terry Ryan is prepared to spend handsomely to bring back the valuable and versatile Michael Cuddyer. NBC Sports says there’s a three-year, $25 million deal on the table.
Be sure to check back with Covering the Bases, as Tony Paul blogs throughout the day Monday-Wednesday from the winter meetings.