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February 20, 2014

Rumor Roundup

Whither Santana?

by Daniel Rathman


Ervin Santana probably won’t land north of the border
Once word leaked that Ubaldo Jimenez was going to become an Oriole, some presumed that the Blue Jays would ante up and reel in the other remaining high-profile free agent starting pitcher. But ESPN’s Jayson Stark has heard from multiple sources that general manager Alex Anthopoulos does not intend to break the bank for Ervin Santana.

Stark wrote on Wednesday that the Blue Jays will come away with Santana only if his asking price falls into the range they have in mind. If agent Bean Stringfellow sticks to his guns, industry sources—both in other organizations and on the player-representation side—don’t believe that the Blue Jays will budge.

The 31-year-old Santana is coming off of a solid year with the Royals during which he kept his home-run troubles in check, bumped his strikeout rate up to 18.7 percent, its highest perch since 2007, and shaved his walk rate down to 5.9 percent, his best showing since 2008. Santana has also been durable over the past few years; his last trip to the disabled list was a three-week stint with a strained triceps in 2009.

Nonetheless, PECOTA—like most teams, apparently—is skeptical that Santana can pitch well enough to warrant a lucrative multi-year contract, leaving aside the draft pick that it would cost to sign him. PECOTA pegs the right-hander as a 0.6 WARP pitcher in 2013, and even padding its 169 2/3-inning projection up to 211 frames, the total Santana attained last year, yields just three-quarters of a win.

That estimate may seem pessimistic, but Santana is also a poor fit for the Blue Jays because the Rogers Centre is the third-most-homer-friendly ballpark in the majors, trailing only Citizens Bank Park and Great American Ball Park. Santana is no longer an extreme fly-ball pitcher—his 46.2 percent ground-ball clip in 2013 marked a career high—but he’s also not a worm-killer, and Toronto’s fly-ball defense ranked in the bottom half of the league last year.

As constructed, the Blue Jays are about a .500 team, and Santana alone won’t transform them into a contender. From that standpoint, Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons might prefer to get a closer look at the pitchers already in the organization to determine which ones might help them in 2015 and beyond. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm pointed out on Monday that many of the arms on Toronto’s 40-man roster are out of options, so adding Santana could mean losing at least one of them before Opening Day.

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<< Previous Article
The BP Wayback Machine... (02/20)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Chris C... (02/19)
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Premium Article Rumor Roundup: Extendi... (02/24)
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