Aug 4, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Are Blue Jays Favorites to Land Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez?

The Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes have put a wrench into the offseason thus far, both for the teams involved in the bidding for Tanaka (read here as EVERYBODY) and for the other pitchers on the market, like Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, and Matt Garza. The Toronto Blue Jays have been one of those teams that have patiently awaiting the outcome of the Tanaka bidding, and that patience may pay off for Toronto, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.

In his latest post, Rosenthal addresses Toronto’s active pursuit of pitching on the market, noting that even at this late stage, they still look to add one or possibly two starting pitchers to their rotation this winter. Rosenthal also makes note that Toronto’s possession of not one, but two protected draft picks in the first round gives them an advantage in that pursuit, as they would only need to surrender a second round pick and the accorded slot money if they signed either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, both of whom declined qualifying offers earlier this winter.

That could be good news for Blue Jays fans who have been waiting to see the team make a move of some caliber this winter. Whether it amounts to anything more than speculation certainly depends on whether the Blue Jays get competitive in their bidding for either candidate.

Earlier this week, we discussed how Jimenez was looking for a deal in the 4-year, $17-$20 million range, hoping to capitalize on a bounce-back campaign that saw him go 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and a career-high 9.6 K/9 ratio. However, bidders will be cautious of a one-year wonder, especially after watching Jimenez struggle over the two prior seasons in Cleveland and the Blue Jays will do their due diligence as well.

This is really the first time we have heard the Blue Jays attached to Ervin Santana. Perhaps that is due to the fact that we had heard he was looking for a 5-year, $100+ million deal. One can understand the 31-year-old reaching for the stars here, as it is likely his last chance at a big payday, but teams will have similar reservations about Santana as they do about Jimenez. As you can see from the stats below, Santana has not exactly been a model of consistency.

Year Tm W L ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ SO/BB
2005 LAA 12 8 4.65 23 133.2 139 73 69 17 47 99 91 2.11
2006 LAA 16 8 4.28 33 204.0 181 106 97 21 70 141 106 2.01
2007 LAA 7 14 5.76 28 150.0 174 103 96 26 58 126 79 2.17
2008 LAA 16 7 3.49 32 219.0 198 89 85 23 47 214 127 4.55
2009 LAA 8 8 5.03 24 139.2 159 83 78 24 47 107 87 2.28
2010 LAA 17 10 3.92 33 222.2 221 104 97 27 73 169 102 2.32
2011 LAA 11 12 3.38 33 228.2 207 95 86 26 72 178 111 2.47
2012 LAA 9 13 5.16 30 178.0 165 109 102 39 61 133 74 2.18
2013 KCR 9 10 3.24 32 211.0 190 85 76 26 51 161 127 3.16
9 Yrs 105 90 4.19 268 1686.2 1634 847 786 229 526 1328 100 2.52
162 Game Avg. 13 11 4.19 34 215 208 108 100 29 67 169 100 2.52
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2014.

Given the previous moves made last winter, the Blue Jays may feel backed into a corner of winning now, which makes a short-sighted signing like Jimenez or Santana seem more necessary that it otherwise would. Neither one of these pitchers gives a lot of hope of getting maximum value out of any deal they sign, but both would represent an upgrade over what Toronto would enter the season with as is.

Whether that is enough to convince the team to spend and take the chance, we’ll have to wait and see.

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