Sergio Santos didn’t require many innings to turn his 2014 season into a disappointment, and it appears that his time as a Toronto Blue Jay may finally be coming to an end. The right-handed reliever with a power arm inspired cautious optimism with his brief stint in 2013, but it seems that was a mirage.
In his second stint with the Toronto Blue Jays, many fans know by now that Sergio Santos was once a shortstop, but it may surprise some to learn how highly-regarded he was at one point. Santos was a 1st Round draft pick, and was ranked as the #34 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America in 2004.
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Sergio Santos first landed North of the border as part of the Troy Glaus deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which saw the Blue Jays send Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson the other way. Outside of winning the 2007 Eastern League Home Run Derby, Santos struggled in the Jays organization, and was converted to Pitcher by the Chicago White Sox in 2009.
An injury to Casey Janssen blew the door wide open for Sergio Santos at the start of this season, but he failed to hold onto the closer’s job and was designated for assignment on July 21st.
There isn’t much to love about Sergio Santos in 2014, so instead we must look to the power potential that his arm possesses. In his 21.0 IP with the Blue Jays this season, Santos struck out 29 batters. In the rare case that his control is on point, he has a plus power fastball and a violent slider.
Santos did enjoy a small amount of success in his brief stop with the Buffalo Bisons, as well, allowing just 3 hits and zero runs over 10.2 innings at AAA. His walks remained an issue, but his strikeout numbers remained very high. There are problems with Santos, but it is difficult to deny that his arm has unique abilities that, if they are someday harnessed, could produce a quality pitcher.
Sergio Santos struggled greatly with his control. Opposing hitters learned early on to take a pitch or two against Santos, and time and time again they were rewarded with 2-0 counts. This allowed them to draw tons of walks, and put Santos in low-leverage situations to use his strikeout pitches.
When presented with strikeout opportunities later in the season, Santos’ slider was beginning to lose effect because hitters knew that it would rarely, if ever, catch the strike zone. With 18 walks in 21.0 innings, it is clear that Santos needs to become a Pitcher, and not a thrower.
Santos’ 8.57 ERA and 2.19 WHIP out of the bullpen were pushed up by his allowing 5 home runs, which he will need to address in his future if he hopes to play at the MLB level.
Sergio Santos has a $6M option for the 2015 season with a $750K buyout option. Clearly, Alex Anthopoulos will be in no rush to pick up that option, and Santos should be able to test the Free Agent market.
There remains the possibility that the Toronto Blue Jays attempt to bring back Sergio Santos on a much cheaper contract. If he were to sign for a much low number, then it could be an interesting move to watch. Santos has yet to put it all together, but he does has some skills to work with.
Santos could be a small change within the large overhaul of the Blue Jays bullpen heading into 2015. Whether it be through Free Agency or trade, expect Toronto to field a much more competitive relief corps next April.