Twins add Santiago, 2 prospects on Deadline day

Twins add Santiago, 2 prospects on Deadline day

CLEVELAND -- The Twins didn't surprise anyone with their first trade of the day when they dealt reliever Fernando Abad to the Red Sox for relief prospect Pat Light. But their second deal came as more of a shock, as right-hander Ricky Nolasco and injured pitching prospect Alex Meyer were sent to the Angels for left-hander Hector Santiago and relief prospect Alan Busenitz shortly before the non-waiver Trade Deadline on Monday.

It was also somewhat of a surprise the Twins didn't trade catcher Kurt Suzuki, who will be a free agent after the season, and they also didn't move reliever Brandon Kintzler or lefty Tommy Milone.

Twins interim general manager Rob Antony was happy with the moves, but he admitted he was hoping to make more. The Twins, though, can still execute trades in August, but players must be placed on waivers before being dealt.

"I think we accomplished some of the things we wanted to do," Antony said. "There are other things that we would have liked to have done, but like I said from the beginning, we weren't going to make a deal just to make a deal. It had to make sense for us. We think that these two deals made sense for us, and so we're happy. We're satisfied with that."

Nolasco's outstanding start

The Twins were looking to move Nolasco, but a deal seemed unlikely because he's due $12 million next year with a $13 million club option in 2018 with a $1 million buyout. He compiled a 5.44 ERA with Minnesota over the last three seasons. The Twins are paying Nolasco's contract this year, while the Angels are doing the same with Santiago. Minnesota will send $4 million next year to offset their salaries.

Nolasco was Minnesota's most durable starter in 2016, leading the team with 21 starts and 124 2/3 innings, but he also posted a 5.13 ERA.

"Ricky was tough for me," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I know he had a persona that maybe didn't leave the best taste in the mouths of Twins fans, but that's misguided in terms of my opinion getting to know him and what he brought."

Meyer, meanwhile, hasn't pitched since May 3 because of a right shoulder strain. He was once considered a top prospect, but he has seen his stock fall because of shoulder injuries and inconsistent mechanics. Meyer has bounced between starting and relieving in recent years, allowing 10 runs in 6 1/3 innings in the Majors over the last two seasons.

"I think for us to do this deal, I think they needed to get another reliever back that they thought was close to the big leagues," Antony said. "It wasn't a matter of being frustrated with him or wanting to get rid of him; it was more a matter of that's who they wanted, and they kept pushing for that."

Santiago is the centerpiece of the deal for the Twins, and he is under team control through next season. He's 10-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 22 starts. But he has struggled with his control, leading the American League with 57 walks. Santiago has struck out 107 in 120 2/3 innings. A career 3.68 ERA, Santiago has been pitching better recently, posting a 2.52 ERA over his last nine starts.

"He's not a big strikeout pitcher, but he's always been a guy who has some damage control," Antony said. "He's a veteran guy that every fifth day we believe he's gonna give us a chance to win, and that's kinda what we're trying to build."

Bollinger on Santiago trade

Busenitz, who turns 26 on Aug. 22, has posted a combined 3.55 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings between two Minor League levels. He has struggled in Triple-A with a 7.62 ERA in 10 appearances. He was assigned to Double-A Chattanooga.

In their first trade, the Twins moved Abad, who was a pleasant surprise for the Twins this season after being signed to a Minor League deal in the offseason. The 30-year-old lefty, who introduced a pitch he called a super changeup this season, posted a 2.65 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 14 walks in 34 innings. The seven-year veteran has a career 3.58 ERA with the Astros, Nationals, A's and Twins.

Light, meanwhile, is a hard-thrower who was ranked as Boston's No. 14 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com. Light, 25, has a fastball that reaches triple digits as well as a splitter and slider. He posted a 2.32 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 17 walks in 31 innings at Triple-A Pawtucket. Light made his Major League debut earlier this season, allowing seven runs in 2 2/3 innings over two relief appearances.

"We like his arm," Antony said. "We like how he fits in the role in the bullpen, so we thought that was a fair return for Abad."

Light was originally drafted by the Twins in the 28th round of the 2009 Draft but opted to go to Monmouth University, where he set a school record with 102 strikeouts in 2012. Boston took him with the 37th pick in the 2012 Draft.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder has a career 4.40 ERA in the Minor Leagues with 240 strikeouts in 290 2/3 innings, but he has had more success since being converted into a reliever last year.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.