DALLAS -- Using the "rebuilding" word for the first time during his 12-year tenure as White Sox general manager, Ken Williams traded closer Sergio Santos to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday for highly-regarded prospect Nestor Molina, a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher.
"It is the start of a rebuilding," Williams said. "And you guys know I have not used that word in 12 years. But it is the start of a rebuilding. Now, is it the start of falling-domino rebuilding? No. Absolutely not.''
Molina, 22, combined to go 12-3 with a 2.21 ERA over 130 innings between the Class A and AA levels. He walked only 18 while striking out 148 in 26 games (23 starts) last season between Class A Dunedin and Class AA New Haven. In his first full season as a starter, he averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings with an 8.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He held opponents to a .234 average and allowed three earned runs or less in 20 of his 23 starts.
"He has a 90-96 mph fastball that bores in on right-handed hitters, he keeps the ball down, can hit the outside corner, inside corner, take it upstairs if he needs to -- he has a swing-and-miss type splitter that drops off the table, a plus slider and an equally effective changeup,'' Williams said.
"We are very happy that we were able to acquire him. I did not anticipate that it would take Sergio to do it. I was thinking it would take starting pitching but the opportunity presented itself.''
Moving Santos was not a salary dumping move. He recently signed for three more years at $8.75 million in a deal that included three options. Williams said Santos was stunned but took it professionally.
Williams indicated that his relief pitching depth with Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and others allowed him to make the deal.
Williams said he hasn't been satisfied with what he's been offered for starters John Danks and Gavin Floyd and suggested he might not trade them. He qualified that by saying "as of today."
"I want to be very clear when I say 'as of today this is where I sit,' '' Williams said. "Because a lot of things can change at these meetings as evidenced by this move.
"We still have interest in some of our position players and we're going to listen. We still have to do some things payroll wise but unless we get back what we need to continue the rebuilding process we'll just go into the season to compete as the same time rebuild. Not so differently from what we've done in the past but maybe a little more aggressive.''
Molina could, because of his command, make the Sox rotation in 2012, although he said he would prefer to bring him along slowly.
Molina is 27-7 with a 2.21 ERA and 277 strikeouts in 103 games and 294 innings (27 starts) over six seasons in the Blue Jays minor-league system.
Santos, 28, went 4-5 with a 3.55 ERA, 30 saves and 92 strikeouts in 63 relief appearances with the White Sox in 2011.