MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins acquired starting pitcher Hector Santiago a minor leaguer from the Los Angeles Angels for right-handers Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer and cash, completing the deal Monday just before the non-waiver trade deadline.
Santiago, an All-Star last season, is 10-4 with a 4.25 ERA in 22 starts with 107 strikeouts and 57 walks in 120 2/3 innings. He’s eligible for free agency after the 2017 season. The Angels also sent Double-A reliever Alan Busenitz to the Twins.
“We’re getting a starter who we can plug right in, and he’s excited about the opportunity,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. “He certainly knows how to pitch. This is a good chance for a change of scenery for him.”
The 33-year-old Nolasco went 15-22 with a 5.44 ERA for the Twins since signing before the 2014 season a $49 million, four-year contract that went fulfilled. Meyer, a once-promising prospect who has sputtered in four seasons with the organization, was acquired in 2012 from Washington for center fielder Denard Span.
This wasn’t the typical trade-deadline deal, given that both the Twins and the Angels are way out of contention.
According to the Twins, the remainder of Nolasco’s $12 million salary this year will stay with the Twins and the rest of Santiago’s $5 million salary this season will stay with the Angels. The Twins will then send $4 million to the Angels in 2017 toward Nolasco’s $12 million salary.
As a result, the Twins pay the Angels $6,371,585: $2,371,585 this year and $4 million in 2017. If the Angels decline Nolasco’s option, the Twins must send the Angels an additional $1 million.
Nolasco leads the Twins this year with 124 2/3 innings, 93 strikeouts and 21 starts, but he’s 4-8 with a 5.13 ERA. If he logs 400 or more innings over the 2016 and 2017 seasons, his $13 million club option for 2018 will be guaranteed.
Over an 11-year career in the majors, Nolasco is 104-97 with a 4.58 ERA. His 3.41 strikeout-to-walk ratio is 10th in the majors in that span among pitchers with a minimum of 1,500 innings.
“Telling Ricky he was traded was tough,” Molitor said. “He brought it all on the mound in every start for us, and I’m grateful for that.”
For a rotation decimated by injuries this season to C.J. Wilson, Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano, Nolasco is at least a slight downgrade from Santiago. But the Angels were willing to swap for the chance to harness the ability of Meyer.
The 26-year-old has a 1.04 ERA in 17 1/3 innings with 19 strikeouts for Triple-A Rochester, but he has been hampered by shoulder trouble. This is his third straight season in Triple-A, having struggled with his control and his confidence since reaching the top level of the farm system. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Meyer was a first-round draft pick by the Nationals in 2011.
Meyer has allowed 10 runs in 6 1/3 innings in the majors, making four appearances for the Twins.
Santiago, who made his major league debut with the Chicago White Sox in 2011, went 7-0 with a 2.52 ERA in his last nine starts for the Angels.
The Twins announced that Santiago would start Thursday at Cleveland, the finale of a four-game series. Left-hander Tommy Milone was moved to the bullpen, with rookie Jose Berrios recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take the mound Monday.
Earlier in the day, the Twins traded left-handed reliever Fernando Abad to Boston for minor league pitcher Pat Light. Last week, they sent shortstop Eduardo Nunez to San Francisco for minor league pitcher Adalberto Mejia. Veterans such as starting pitcher Ervin Santana, closer Brandon Kintzler, catcher Kurt Suzuki and third baseman Trevor Plouffe stayed put, but any of them still could be dealt this month by first clearing waivers.
The 25-year-old Busenitz, a 25th-round draft pick by the Angels in 2013, has a career 3.55 ERA in the minor leagues. The right-hander was hit hard with Triple-A Salt Lake in 10 appearances this season but posted a 1.93 ERA in 32 2/3 innings for Double-A Arkansas. The Twins will send him to Double-A Chattanooga.
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