With free agency off to a slow start, we continue to look at players that are available that fit a need for the Dodgers.
Today, we look at a right-handed starting pitcher that has spent his career in the American League:
Ervin Santana is a 30-year-old starting pitcher that spent 2013 with the Kansas City Royals. In his major league career, he’s 105-90 with a 4.19 ERA in 265 starts.
Santana started 32 games for the Royals and finished 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 211 innings. He finished with the lowest ERA in his career in his first season with the Royals. Santana was slightly better on the road and finished the second half with a 3.07 ERA.
The 30-year-old is a durable pitcher, evidenced by the fact that he has started at least 30 games in five of the last six seasons. He’s also reached the 200-inning mark in three of the last four seasons. Although his ERA has fluctuated, Santana has always been there to take the ball every fifth day and can be counted on to keep his team in the game.
Take away his 2012 season and Santana has gone over 200 innings and had an ERA under 4.00 since 2010. Santana is a prime candidate for the third or fourth spot in any rotation. Santana has maintained that ERA pitching in the American League, where he faces designated hitters every night and a move to the National League would improve his ERA and his value.
Santana has improved his control drastically and allowed just 51 walks last season. Having control last season limited base runners and allowed him to enjoy his lowest ERA of his career. Santana matured his game after being traded from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and was a pleasant surprise for the Royals last season. In an off-season with limited pitching, Santana could become the prize of the group if he continues to progress.
Although he had a successful 2013 season, Santana is one year removed from a season in which he allowed a league-leading 39 home runs and had a 5.16 ERA for the Angels. The right-hander is known to be inconsistent from year-to-year and could be due for a bad season. Santana is prone to the long ball and has allowed at least 25 home runs in each of the past four seasons. With the Dodgers, Santana would be a fourth or fifth starter that’s relied upon more for putting the team in a position to win rather than dominate.
The pitching available this winter is free from any aces and is rather limited. It’s been said that Santana expects a contract worth at least $100 million from any team that signs him. With a premium placed on pitching, it could very well happen that he gets that amount. That type of contract is extremely dangerous, especially for a 30-year-old starter that has never been higher than a number two starter.
Despite his production, Santana isn’t known to be a strikeout pitcher, as he has only reached 200 strikeouts in one season once 2008. Strikeout pitchers usually have a better chance of putting up similar production in their later years and Santana could easily regress to his 2012 ways. Also, Santana has a career 5.56 ERA in the postseason hasn’t pitched in October since 2009, but has two career playoff starts, allowing 10 earned runs in 9.2 innings. The Dodgers need someone who can handle the postseason pressure.
It’s been said that Santana is seeking a five-year deal in the $100 million range; however, it’s unknown whether he will command that type of contract. He’s considered as the best free agent starter available, but has many question marks surrounding him. He projects as a number two or three starter and could receive an offer slightly higher than what Edwin Jackson got last season (4-year/$52 million). If Santana doesn’t receive his $100 million, look for him to get a multi-year deal worth $15-18 million a year.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 5%
It seems as if the Dodgers have bigger plans for their rotation with the rumored pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka and David Price; however, if they fail to acquire those two then they could turn to Santana as a consolation. The Dodgers likely wouldn’t pursue Santana because of his demands and inconsistent numbers.
If the Dodgers fail with Tanaka, Price and their own free agent Ricky Nolasco, then we may see Santana next season, but by that time someone will have given in to Santana’s demands.
Expect the Dodgers to make a big splash this off-season and leave Santana to be overpaid somewhere else.