Down to the Wire with Ervin Santana

The most recent reporting from mlbtraderumors.com is that free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana has blinked and will now agree to a one-year deal after failing to get the four-year $50 million his representation team has been seeking this off-season.  There may or may not have been a re-shuffling of Santana’s agents to explain the sudden change of position.

As I’m sure you know, there wasn’t a lot of day light between the top free agent starters this off-season after Masahiro TanakaRicky Nolasco, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jiminez and Santana all look to have about the same value going forward, and the first three all signed four-year deals for right around $50 million.  Not surprisingly, Santana and his agency thought he deserved the same.

However, Nolasco and Garza weren’t tied to draft pick compensation, and the market for Jiminez didn’t resolve until he agreed upon a deal with the Orioles a week into Spring Training.  We’re now about half way through Spring Training, and it looks like Santana is the loser in the game of musical chairs.

The talk that Santana and former Mariner Kendrys Morales might wait until after the early June Draft to sign, so that they would no longer require draft pick surrender by the teams that sign them, sounds like the kind of nonsense lawyers throw out there when they don’t have any real arguments to present.  If a player were to wait until June to sign, he’d lose half a season of pay, because he’d have to go to the minors for a period to get himself into major league game shape/sharpness, and it would raise a lot of questions in teams’ minds about how much the player wants to play and whether his skills have deteriorated as a result of the time off.  No one’s going to pay you a premium because you took half a season off trying to get a better deal.

If Santana is really willing to accept a one-year contract so he can try again in free agency a year from now, he should start to get offers right away, at least from those teams that won’t lose a first-round draft pick if they sign him.  If I were a team that would lose a first-round draft pick by signing Santana to a one-year deal, there’s no way I’d make the signing.  I’d want Santana for at least two seasons in exchange for a first-round pick.  In fact, if Santana and his agents had been willing to accept a three-year $39 million deal a month ago, I think he’d be in somebody’s camp right now.

For a team that won’t lose a first-round pick and hopes to contend this year, one year of Santana sounds great.  The Blue Jays and the Orioles are reportedly interested in Santana, and the Mariners, Indians and Rockies have also been linked to Santana.

The Royals, having given Jason Vargas a four-year $32 million deal to replace Santana earlier this off-season, were reported today to have no interest in bringing back Santana on a one-year deal.  Presumably, the Royals’ budget won’t allow a $12M to $15M bump to sign Santana for a season, which is really too bad, since the Royals need to contend this year, given the expectation that James Shields will leave as a free agent after this season.

There’s also a good chance a team like the Yankees will jump in and sign Santana if he’ll take a one-year deal.  The Bombers aren’t going to get under the salary cap after their own free agent signings, and could still use another starter even after the addition of Tanaka.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians, Denver Rockies, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees, Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays

One Comment on “Down to the Wire with Ervin Santana”

  1. Burly Says:

    The Braves jumped in today and signed Santana for one year and $14.1 million, the same amount as the qualifying offer from the Royals Santana rejected months ago. The Braves give up the 26th pick in the 2014 Draft for one year of Santana.


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