The thought has crossed his mind that, yes, he could be traded by the White Sox this offseason.
He’s aware the rumors exist, but pitcher Hector Santiago also knows that, with few exceptions, almost everyone in the clubhouse is in the same position.
Though his name has perhaps surfaced in more hot-stove chats than others, Santiago said the team’s offseason plans were a popular topic at reliever Matt Lindstrom’s wedding earlier this month.
The consensus: After last summer’s trades of Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton, anything goes as the White Sox attempt to rebound from a 99-loss campaign.
“You think anything is possible,” Santiago said. “If they can get rid of a guy like Peavy and Thornton that have been here for so many years, anybody can be moved.”
Santiago seems like a more logical choice for a trade than most White Sox players, however.
First and foremost, he’s at a position of depth as one of four left-handed starting pitchers in the team’s rotation.
Unlike fellow southpaw John Danks, Santiago is an inexpensive and affordable option as most teams are likely to balk at the $42.75 million still owed to Danks, who’s only 15 months removed from shoulder surgery.
Add to that the fact that multiple major league executives are of the belief that Chris Sale and Jose Quintana have been made unavailable by the White Sox, and Santiago becomes the best choice as the White Sox look to diversify their rotation. Even so, Santiago believes the White Sox could still roll out four lefties when the 2014 campaign opens on March 31.
“They can sit back and say there are four left-handed pitchers, but they are strong enough that they can get out right-handers because for the most part I think everybody gets out right-handers pretty well and we do a good job against lefties as well,” Santiago said. “I think they can sit back and say, ‘Maybe we can try this out and see where it goes.’ If they need to make a change they can always do it. I guess there’s too much that goes into it, and we can’t think about that.”
While his future with the club might be uncertain, Santiago is confident about his career after career-high marks with 149 innings and 23 starts last season. The team’s one-time closer and a pitcher White Sox Robin Ventura has affectionately referred to as his “Swiss Army Knife” because of the way he fits in many roles, Santiago believes he has more clarity about his role because of his lack of activity this offseason. Whereas he spent last year in winter ball, Santiago — who posted a 3.51 ERA in 130.2 innings as a starter in 2013 — was sent home this offseason and told to get ready for 2014.
The inactivity was too much for Santiago, however.
He already began his offseason throwing program earlier this month in anticipation of next season.
“This past season was a great step forward for them, for me and to see where I can be at next year maybe in the rotation, long relief or in the bullpen,” Santiago said. “I think them shutting me down is leading to signs that they are saving my arm so hopefully I can get to 200 innings next year.”