The Los Angeles Angels and GM Jerry DiPoto didn't wait for the 12 p.m. ET deadline on Wednesday night to decide the economical fate for pitcher Ervin Santana, opting to trade him Wednesday afternoon to the Kansas City Royals for minor league prospect Brandon Sisk.
The move, as first reported through the rumor-mill by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, is only the beginning of what looks to be a busy Angels offseason, as they attempt to build a better pitching staff.
But was this trade a good start towards that goal? Just remember, the return product is always an important factor when weighing the outcome of trades, especially when they fall—oddly enough—on the holiday that is so synonymous with tricks...or treats.
However, before everyone picks and analyzes this deal to the bone, it's important to remember what the club lacked the most in 2012 and where they needed help for the future.
Although Santana racked up 96 wins to 88 losses and averaged a 4.33 ERA over an eight-year tenure with the Angels, it's hard to argue that he is a missing piece to a better staff for the future. If anything, he was on the decline and well-past any pitching coach correcting a non-repetitive motion. (He also surrendered an average of 29 home runs a season.)
While the bigger stories of free agent pitchers Zack Greinke and Dan Haren still loom over the Angels, dealing Ervin Santana seemed predictable based on the $13 million he was owed if signed with the Angels in 2013—after all, the Angles already have one high-paid question mark to deal with next season in Vernon Wells; two may be too many to handle.
The front office, led by Jerry DiPoto, was smart enough to realize that.
More importantly, they were smart enough to realize it would be better to trade Santana for prospective needs—and eating the $1 million buyout—than to let him walk with no return at all.
The deal was made; Santana is gone. Sisk will be welcomed...perhaps?
Without question, there is doubt anytime a trade is made involving a major league player for a minor league player. All five of Sisk's seasons have been spent in the minors, reaching Triple-A as his pinnacle and never throwing innings at the MLB level.
If you weren't a season ticket holder in Omaha the last few years, this guy is an unknown.
But, he is a lefty out of the bullpen—an area the Angels need covered—and he does his job well above average. According to a prospect report in 2011, Sisk was noted as carrying a 10 strikeout-per-nine-inning average to only 3.4 walks and, most impressively, only averaged .028 home runs-per-nine-innings.
Basically, he can get guys out. That is what makes the trade so good for the Angels. Regardless of his level achieved to date, I would take the Pepsi Challenge on Sisk over Hawkins or Isringhausen any day of the week.
In 2012, the bullpen blew 19 leads after the starter left the game in a winning position. That's 19 times the Angels were in a position to win, but the relief pitchers blew it. Cut that number down to only 14 or 15 and you are talking about the Angels in the playoffs last season, not watching it on television.
Specialists like Sisk will help that cause. As a lefty option out of the pen, he will be a perfect fit next to Scott Downs—who is nearing the end of his career—and lead the way to Ernesto Frieri.
So, was it the best deal ever? No. But the Angels got what they could for a pitcher that wasn't the most in demand on the market.
In that same article by Ken Rosenthal, rival executives told Rosenthal, "A number of teams already are engaged in serious trade discussions for starting pitchers, exploring options that are more appealing than Haren and Santana."
The truth is revealed.
The Angels, understanding that Greinke is the starter they covet and that Garrett Richards and Jerome Williams, if signed, will get chances next season to start games, and they acted quickly on Santana.
The Angels got value, addressing an area of dire need, for nothing more than $1million.
Was it a win for the organization? It's too early for predictions, but it's not a bad start towards the Angels' 2013 season.
(All statistics were provided through baseball-reference.com unless otherwise noted.)