Someone actually took Ricky Nolasco. How about that.
It was just announced that Nolasco and Alex Meyer are going to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for lefthanded starter Hector Santiago. I honestly have no idea who reported it first, so pretend it was Ken Rosenthal. He also adds that cash is likely going from the Twins to the Angels to facilitate the deal, which Rhett Bollinger says is $4 million next year to help pay Nolasco’s salary. However, an interesting twist is that the two teams will continue to pay their former player’s salary for the rest of this season.
We all know the struggles of Nolasco, a guy that was supposed to solidify the starting rotation but ended up being a more expensive Mike Pelfrey. He had the stuff to succeed but continued his trend of underperforming in spite of his decent peripherals. After three seasons with the Twins, Nolasco ends his tenure with a 5.44 ERA but a 4.20 FIP with a mediocre strikeout rate, good walk rate, and far too many home runs and hits allowed.
Alex Meyer was the return from trading Denard Span several years ago and he has been underwhelming as well. Armed with a high-90s fastball and sharp breaking ball, he was expected to at the very least be a solid reliever but his lanky 6’9” frame made it difficult for him to repeat his mechanics, often leading to wildness. Meyer has made only four major league appearances over the past two seasons and has missed much of this year due to shoulder soreness. He’s certainly a wild card and the Angels are likely hoping to help him put it all together to become the dominant pitcher scouts have always dreamed of seeing.
Coming back to the Twins is 28-year old lefthander Hector Santiago who is almost the exact opposite of Nolasco. Whereas Nolasco had terrible ERAs but other stats painted a solid pitcher, Santiago is the guy with good ERAs but kind of a mess elsewhere. That’s not to say Santiago is a bad pitcher, it just means that he comes with question marks of his own. Namely, in spite of his ability to get some strikeouts, Santiago has poor control and has run a .268 BABIP in his career (pitchers almost always hover around .300). Although he is homer-prone himself and the walk rate is poor, his ability to limit giving up hits has allowed him to have a 3.68 ERA in his career, although his FIP is much worse at 4.63. He’s spent the majority of his career as a starting pitcher but has relieved as well. Plus, he throws a screwball (at least in the past, he did... reportedly the Angels had him scrap it) so that has the potential to be fun.
In addition to Santiago, the Twins also get minor league reliever Alan Busenitz. Turning 26 years old in three weeks, Busenitz has split the year between Double-A and Triple-A in the Angels system. He had far more success at Double-A with a 1.93 ERA while striking out nearly a batter per inning and exhibiting excellent control in 32 2/3 innings, but Triple-A has been a different story with a 7.62 ERA in 13 innings, though that’s been almost entirely due to an unsustainably high BABIP. Busenitz is yet another reliever that can pump his fastball into the high-90s and also shows some deception in his delivery that makes it even harder for batters to pick up his pitches. In addition to the fastball, he also features a change-up and curveball, but it sounds like he, like Meyer, has trouble repeating his delivery which affects his command at times.
I’ll have another post up later giving more detail about Hector Santiago because he truly is an intriguing pitcher. I also have to give some kudos to Rob Antony. For getting thrust into the fire rather quickly, he’s done pretty well with his moves.