The 25-year-old, who would be one of four left-handed starters if the White Sox left their rotation unchanged, has not only left his New Jersey roots to relocate permanently to Arizona, he already started throwing in preparation for next season.
Staying active is perhaps the best way to avoid thinking about roster uncertainty that surrounds the White Sox. As the club tries to retool a roster that underachieved in most areas last season, only a handful of players are untouchable.
It is believed only Chris Sale, Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia are off the board when it comes to potential deals, and prying Jose Quintana away would take a deal that knocks the socks off the front office.
"I don't take anything too serious," Santiago said about trade rumors. "You're going to hear stuff and you don't know what's true and what's not. You don't know what to expect but just be ready for whether it's here or somewhere else."
Santiago said he met up recently with teammates Matt Lindstrom, Addison Reed and Donnie Veal at Lindstrom's wedding and trade rumors were a topic of conversation. Also discussed was the left-handed heavy rotation.
"I thought about that a bunch and I was like, 'Are they actually going to go with four left-handed pitchers?' " Santiago said. "I think they can. I think 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."
It isn't the way he would he would plan it, but Hahn claims he wouldn't object to starting four lefties next year.
"Ideally there's a little bit more balance, but we don't feel pressure to make a move to create that balance," Hahn said. "We've got some high-quality starting pitching here. It just happens a lot of it is left-handed."
Santiago says he expects to be one of those lefty starters and a telling sign seemed to come at the start of September, when pitching coach Don Cooper nixed the idea of winter ball.
Santiago pitched during the winter last season, but the White Sox felt his career-best 149 innings in 2013 were plenty.
"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," Santiago said.