White Sox: What Can Hector Santiago Contribute for This Season?
White Sox signed the veteran pitcher to minor league contract before spring training. What can left-handed pitcher provide the team for 2018?
After being traded away in 2013, Hector Santiago has returned to the south side of Chicago. The fan favorite was traded as a 25-year old in exchange for Adam Eaton after the 2013 season in a three-team trade. Eaton, who as we all know was flipped for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, quickly became a huge asset for the White Sox upon his arrival in 2014.
Fans were sad to see Eaton go but were able to cope due to the return that Rick Hahn pulled in. Digging deeper into this topic, we can assess one thing. Santiago played a huge part in bringing in some of the core elements of this rebuild that we are currently in. For that, I believe I can speak for all White Sox fans when I say, Thank You, Hector.
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It doesn’t end there…
Following his return, however, Santiago’s contributions to this team are no longer limited to the players that his value helped bring in years ago. Starting in the 2018 regular season, Santiago will continue to add onto his contributions to the Chicago White Sox. So the question is, what exactly can he contribute to this club?
At 30 years old, he is still fairly young. In fact, I believe he is at the perfect point in his career. His age doesn’t exactly throw off the average age for the Sox. However, with just over six years of service time, Santiago brings experience to the young team. He has spent a little over four years of his seven-year career in the American League Central, he knows the division and its hitters well. He has faced a fair amount of adversity throughout his career and has learned to deal with it. In 2015, he gave up 29 homers, eighth worst in the majors. He still went on to record a 3.59 earned run average. He has more than gotten his efficient taste of the majors.
What about his ability?
Though I’ve strayed thus far from discussing his ability, it is nothing short of what the Sox need. Santiago has quietly put together one of the more consistent careers in the majors since his debut in 2011. Only twice has he concluded a season with an ERA above 4.00, in 2016 and 2017. His career ERA sits at exactly 4.00 heading into 2018. The swing-and-miss rating of Santiago has always been above average. His four-seam, changeup, and slider have drawn swing-and-miss rates of 8.93 percent, 9.95 percent, and 11.42 percent, respectively. Before 2017, his K/9 rating never concluded below 7.1.
The only things that have hurt Santiago are his tendencies to surrender home runs and walks. The majority of his years saw him place within the bottom ten of home runs allowed. With the exception of 2011, his BB/9 has always been 3.5 or higher.
So what should we expect as fans?
Well, it could ultimately go either way. I think there should be no doubt that Santiago will positively contribute to the Sox staff. I believe he will put up average numbers, if not above average. Most importantly, I believe his experience could assist in the molding the careers of the young pitchers that the White Sox have. Not just with starters, but relief men as well. Santiago has made 59 relief appearances in his career to go along with 130 starts.
Whether he is still a part of the team at the end of the season is one thing that may be up for debate. Unfortunate as it is to say, if Santiago succeeds past expectations, Hahn may have no option but to deal him near the trading deadline. Even without success, his value would be ideal for certain buyers at the deadline given his versatility and experience.
However, Santiago has all the opportunity in the world to cement himself as a part of the rebuild. If he could succeed, maybe Hahn will accept that his services are beneficial to the rebuild and keep him. It would be nice to have a guy who was with us during the rough years on the roster that eventually makes noise in the postseason.
Next: White Sox Winning Streak Ends with Loss to Brewers
I think I speak for all of White Sox nation when I say it’s good to have Hector back on our side. No matter how many years went by, it was always hard to see him starting on the bump against us for opposing teams.