Sep 14, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) walks off the field after being relieved in the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Bringing Back Ervin Santana

April 14, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Ervin Santana (54) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one hole on the Royals at this point, it would be in the starting rotation. James Shields is a more than competent top of the rotation starter, but Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas project more as middle of the rotation innings eaters as opposed to pitchers that can fill the role of a second starter. In a perfect world, the Royals second starter last season, Ervin Santana, would find his way back to Kansas City and fill that spot, at least for a year or two.

As it turns out, Santana is still available. Perhaps this is due to the qualifying offer he received from the Royals, where any team signing him would need to forfeit a draft pick. Perhaps it is due to the erratic nature of Santana’s career, where he has posted an ERA north of 5.00 three times in the past seven years. Whatever the reason, with five weeks before pitchers and catchers report, Santana still finds himself without a team.

As noted by Bill Ivie Jr of Bleacher Report, this wait may actually improve the Royals chances at bringing Ervin Santana back. As postulated in his article, the Royals may look to offer Santana a one year contract, stating that they will not use the qualifying offer on him if he signs. This way, Santana could test free agency in another year, and if he pitches just as well, may be able to line up another solid payday.

Such a scenario would certainly work for the Royals. Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer would get another season to prepare for a major league workload and to refine their pitching. Danny Duffy would not be under any pressure whatsoever, and could look to continue to round back into shape. Meanwhile, that rotation could be strong enough, with the expected improvements on offense, to give the Royals the pitching they need to be able to go on a playoff run.

But what would be the draw for Santana? If he is able to get that clause in the contract specifically stating that he will not be made a qualifying offer next year, similar to how football players get that clause after being franchised, he may be interested. The Royals could also offer Santana a run into the postseason, something he has not experienced since 2009. Santana may also be willing to come back just because he appeared to embrace Kansas City quickly; after all, he still refers to himself as a “Kansas City Royals Starting Pitcher” on his Twitter profile.

It may be that Ervin Santana finds his way back to Kansas City for one more year. Who knows, maybe he could stay around a bit longer as well.

Tags: Ervin Santana Kansas City Royals

  • unclejesse40

    Do you guys think that Chris Capuano has any value to the Royals? or is he just another Guthrie Vargas type pitcher? Seems like injurys have been his problem of late and if you bring him in on a team friendly deal and he builds up his value by pitching well, good for him and the Royals, but if he pitches well and then gets hurt the royals have young guys they could bring up. seems like they want to wait on Ventura anyway.

    • Dave Hill

      Thought about him, but as you said, he’s been injury plagued over the past couple of years. The Royals could consider him, but my guess is that he would be further down the list of potential reclamation projects, after Marcum and Johan Santana.

      • unclejesse40

        Marcum is with Cleveland now correct? and it appears that a reunion with the Twinkies is in Johan’s future.

        • Dave Hill

          You are correct about Marcum. Guess with the holidays and the insanity surrounding that, I completely missed that signing. Not sure that Santana is a given to the Twins though – he’s looking for the best opportunity. If another team provides a better chance, he may jump at that, even if Minnesota is interested.

  • Ed Connealy

    Dave, what’s your max contract for Erv? I would offer 3 for 40.

    • Dave Hill

      I’d say three years for $42 Million, so we’re in the same ballpark there.

  • Eric Akers

    One more year would be perfect. I like getting players like Santana during a contract year, I think he would be more likely to perform closer at last year’s level.

  • moretrouble

    KC fans have experienced this lack of information before. DM is careful to keep negotiations out of the public eye. Talks with Guthrie and Chen were kept private last year. Little was said about Infante and Aoki before signing.

    My hope is that KC will save it’s money and rely on the guys in their system. They’ve got important future negotiations with Shields, Butler and Gordon coming up. If they’re going to develop young pitchers, it’s time they used them. Unless, of course, the price for Santana drops so low that future negotiations aren’t affected.

  • jimfetterolf

    Lot of teams need pitching and Santana’s delay in getting signed likely has more to do with Tanaka than any other reason. When Tanaka signs, the second place team probably goes for Garza or Ubaldo, third for either the other one or Santana. Erv’s market is a little narrow as he needs a big park and a great defense in order to dominate and given his inconsistency a long, big contract would scare many teams. For him, a pillow contract with the Royals might make sense and overpaying him for a year wouldn’t harm the Royals much, but it would effectively block Ventura or Zimmer, which might lead to a trade of Guthrie or even Shields if the team has fallen way behind by the ASB.

    If it was me, I’ld use the $16m and try to extend Shields and Hosmer in the next month, maybe Duffy after spring training, maybe even Ventura. That’s the future of the team and I would be looking at long-term, sustainable contention rather than trying to buy a playoff spot while damaging the team in following years. If being GM was easy, Dayton Moore would be making $50k :)

  • unclejesse40

    So I have been screwing around this morning and wanted to get every bodies take on something. what would you think of a rotation of 1. James Shield 2. Jeff Francis 3. Jason Vargas 4. Jeremy Guthrie 5. Chris Capuano? Before we jump off a cliff, this pitching staff has a better steamer projection than what last years starters did. Francis didnt pitch bad in KC (Steamer projection is 2.1) he just never got any run support which should be correcting itself now. I think the major plus with this pitching staff is that every night you know what you are going to get. Each guy can pitch deep into games, each guy is going to give up a couple of runs in those games, and then our lock down bull pen can close it out. If it was me managing a team I would want to go out every night knowing that we needed to score 4-5 runs a night to win. Not well tonight 1 run might do it but we also might have to score 8. I would probably bring in Clayton Richard to continue his rehab and possibly come back to contribute. With this rotation set I would push Duffy to work on 4 pitches and to go after batters. I would also let Ventura season a little more and if we traded a guy or someone gets hurt he would be able to jump right in. As you can see I have more faith in Ventura than I do in Duffy at this point.

  • unclejesse40

    Dave, I want to thank you for posting so much and feeding my Royals fix on a daily basis. Keep up the good work! It is very much appreciated.

    • Dave Hill

      Thanks! It’s gratifying seeing the response and how passionate you all are on here. Passionate Royals fans are something I miss out on being in Massachusetts.


    They need to re-sign Chen or Santana. Barring an unlikely trade, I just don’t see anybody else in our price range that’s still available. We have the edge on Santana because of the qualifying offer and nobody is bitten on Chen yet. Again we just have to be willing to spend some more money if we want to win. It’s a shame to be this close and lack a real number 2 in the rotation. If we go into the season like that, it speaks to how shortsighted the ownership and Moore are sometimes.

    Better question: are we really keeping both Davis and Hoch in hopes that one will be reborn as a starter? It’s silly that we didn’t trade one of them sooner in the offseason. Maybe the price goes up once these free agents finally sign though.