Royals add Ervin Santana, Angels save some longballs

Word broke today that the Kansas City Royals picked up Ervin Santana pretty much right after Anaheim picked up his 2013 option at $13MM. In return Anaheim will receive LH reliever Brandon Sisk, who has yet to appear in a major league game at age 27. Instead of giving Santana the $1MM buyout and allowing him to escape via free agency with no return, it looks like (details aren’t out) Anaheim gets some minor league depth in case of injuries at the big league club and will likely save more than the $1MM they owed Santana anyhow.

This deal seems pretty “meh” until you consider what an enigma Santana has been over the course of his career. The right hander has been a scouts dream for years. A big athletic guy with relatively awesome mechanics and three above average pitches. He throws a lot of innings and rarely misses 200 innings every year. What seems pretty obvious is that his failure has been keeping the ball in the park, which is likely a result of two factors. First and foremost would be his command, which can be incredibly inconsistent. In 2012 he lost a bit on his fastball which also contributed to his elevated HR rate. The other would be, in my opinion, the Daniel Bard dilemma where a guy has such smooth mechanics that it allows hitters to see the ball relatively well out of their hand. Santana’s arm slot, delivery and tendency to miss in the zone all contribute to his failure to be dominant at the major league level even though his peripherals all suggest a guy that’s on the verge of becoming an ace.

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 30:  Starting pitcher Er...

Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife

Given all those considerations, the Royals get a pitcher who can provide innings and not beat up on their young bullpen, which was used quite a bit in 2012. They also gain cost certainty, as Santana is only on the hook for 2013. If they see some improvement, they can make a qualifying offer and either have Santana take the one-year deal or receive the compensation if he (most likely) declines. $12MM is certainly a lot of money to pay for a pitcher who has been relatively league average by the numbers. KC certainly isn’t flush with cash, even if it’s only one year and there’s relatively low risk, which makes me wonder what they’re gaining here. It’s unlikely Santana will give them any soft of home town discount, since if he does produce at a high level he will want to test free agency at his age 30 season, the point in which it’s likely your last chance to get a big money contract.

On the flip side is that this market is fiercely competitive with little depth, especially at starting pitcher. It’s likely that there would be plenty of competition for Santana even though he hasn’t shown he’s really worth it. It’s hard for me to understand why Dayton Moore wouldn’t save the cash and hope that Hosmer bounces back, Will Meyers shows he’s able to produce at the big league level and the rest of their core talent matures. That ~$12MM will certainly prove more useful a year or two from now when they’re likely in the position to compete at a high level. There’s the possibility that Moore is just gambling, hoping Santana gets better and/or benefits from the ballpark in Kansas City and then is able to flip him at the deadline to a

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 21:  General manag...

General manager Dayton Moore (R) & owner David Glass. Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife

competitor looking for someone to gamble on like the White Sox did with Francisco Liriano in 2012.

MLB teams certainly aren’t low on funds these days, as many teams are raking in the cash due to MLB’s continued growth. However you have to question Dayton Moore as this seems to be a trend of picking up depth for no apparent reason, a la Jeff Francoeur, who is eating some some serious cash on the bench.

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