MLB Free Agent Targets: Ervin Santana


Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana looks in before delivering a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Name: Ervin Santana

Position: Starting Pitcher



Ervin Santana has never really been considered one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball but at 30 years of age he’s put together a solid career so far. He struggled with the Los Angeles Angels in 2012 but it was mostly due to a 18.9% fly ball rate and a career high 39 home runs allowed. The Angels shipped him off in a cost-cutting move to the Kansas City Royals and the Angels were willing to pay $1 million of the $13 million he was owed in the final year of his deal.

Looking at Santana’s advanced metrics it wasn’t surprising to see him have a comeback season with the Royals. Not only were the home runs coming at an abnormally frequent rate he also stranded less than 70% of runners in 2012. The strikeouts were slightly down and the walks slightly up but it appeared to be an outlier year as Santana had kept his ERA under four three of the previous four seasons.

A big part of Santana’s turnaround was an improved walk rate. His BB/9 of 2.18 had only been bettered once in his career and that was during his 2008 All-Star campaign. He wasn’t striking out as many batters as 2008 but has evolved into more of a ground ball pitcher and had a career-high 46.2% GB rate in 2013.

According to Brooks Baseball, he’s steadily increased the usage of his sinker after throwing mostly a four-seam fastball/slider combination for many years. His slider is still devastating and had a 19.23% whiff rate in 2013 and more than 13% of his ground balls came courtesy of the sinking fastball.


The Toronto Blue Jays are looking to add a pitcher to their rotation this offseason and Santana is arguably the best pitcher available (or at least the best available free agent… ahem, Masahiro Tanaka). However the Blue Jays aren’t alone in their pursuit for a pitcher.

MLB Trade Rumors suggest that the Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburg Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets “should all have varying degrees of interest.”

Steve Adams, the author of the aforementioned MLBTR article, predicts Santana will fetch five years and $75 million on the open market this offseason.

Santana, who will turn 31 in December, might not be worth the investment for the Toronto Blue Jays but at $15 million per it’s not a completely unreasonable deal based on current baseball economics. But five years would make it especially tough to swallow and I have a feeling will be the Blue Jays reason for not acquiring Ervin Santana this winter.