Aug 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

What the Matt Garza Contract Could Mean for Ervin Santana


Jun 18, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Cleveland won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Once Masahiro Tanaka signed, it was expected that the top trio of pitchers would sign shortly thereafter. The markets for Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez had not really begun to materialize, as Tanaka was still available. However, once Tanaka was signed by the Yankees, it would make sense that the other top pitchers available would soon come off the board.

The first of those pitchers came off the board yesterday, when Matt Garza agreed to a four year, $52 Million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. Of the three, it was thought that Garza may receive the largest contract, since he was not tied to any draft pick compensation. Garza has also been more consistent than either pitcher, which may cause his contract to be slightly more than the others.

But what does this contract mean for Ervin Santana specifically? According to Jeff Passan, as of a week ago, Santana was looking for a four year contract worth approximately $60 Million. This signing virtually makes it impossible that Santana will receive that type of an offer.

The biggest strikes against Santana at this point are that he is tied to draft pick compensation and his general inconsistency. While his overall numbers over the past seven years may seem decent enough, as he has posted a 77-74 record with a 4.14 ERA and a 2.66 strikeout to walk rate, that ERA is actually fairly misleading. In three of those seven years, Santana has posted an ERA over 5.00, and essentially rebuilt his value with his performance for the Royals last season. Where Santana excels, especially compared to Garza, is with his ability to take the ball and pitch. While Garza has made a combined 42 starts in the last two seasons, Santana has not made under 30 starts in a season since 2009.

Essentially, it would appear as though Ervin Santana should get a similar contract to the one signed by Garza. However, that draft pick compensation may push his salary down. It may be that Santana ends up getting a contract of four years, but at a range between $44 and $48 Million, with potential bonuses getting him to that $52 Million mark.

If that is the type of contract that Santana will be getting offered, it is difficult to imagine that the Royals would not be involved in the discussions. Should they be able to find a taker for Wade Davis or Luke Hochevar, that contract may be even more palatable to David Glass. Considering that they were willing to give Santana just over $14 Million on a one year deal, would the Royals really balk at a contract worth $11 to $12 Million per year?

It seemed that, the longer that Ervin Santana remained a free agent, the better that the Royals chances would likely be when it came to retaining his services. Now that Matt Garza has inked his contract, it appears as though the Royals chances may be even better than had been originally expected.

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Tags: Ervin Santana Kansas City Royals Matt Garza

  • jimfetterolf

    Money shouldn’t be a problem, contrary to what Bob and Sam say. With Shields’ asking price, re-signing Santana allows Shields to walk or be traded. More important is whether the Royals think Santana will be worth 3 wins again and whether he’ll be better this year than Ventura. A four year contract with Santana regressing to ’12 levels would be disastrous. That suggests that more money and less years might be better, but still a risk.

    • Dave Hill

      If he pitches the way he did in 2012, it would definitely be a disaster. It is also troubling that Santana has rarely put together back to back solid years. The biggest question is whether or not the Royals think he is worth the expenditure, and if they feel he can replicate last season. If they feel that he can, it would be a no-brainer to sign him.

      To me, I think the Royals have to take the chance. The Central is probably as open as it has been in years, and they have a chance to seize a playoff berth. Their odds get better with Santana in the rotation instead of Davis/Hochevar.

      • jimfetterolf

        All depends on which Santana. At his worst I’ll take Hoch and Davis as they still have stuff and ceiling while last year is the best Santana will be for the rest of his career. For a 4/48 we’ld need about 8 WAR out of Santana and that’s at least possible. Even 4/52 isn’t fatal, preferably with the last $4m or so based on innings incentives. Would need to retain some trade rights so he could be dumped if the kids all come through in a couple of years. Signing Santana would smooth the transition when Shields leaves but effectively blocks Ventura for this year.

        • Dave Hill

          It may block Ventura initially, but I don’t know that it would block him for all of 2014. Duffy, to me at least, is not a given. I’m not sure that Duffy can hold up as a starter, and if he will be able to consistently pitch into the sixth and seventh innings of games.

          • jimfetterolf

            I’m not worried about Duffy, he’s healed up and his problems are identified and easy enough to fix, being release point on the curve and getting cute when ahead in the count. Of the starters, might be most worried about how Guthrie ages.

          • Dave Hill

            I’m also concerned with Guthrie, His peripherals indicate that he is a prime candidate for regression this season. That’s another reason why I would feel more comfortable with Santana returning.

          • jimfetterolf

            Santana back and Duffy at #2 or 3 would allow Guthrie to drop to #4 or 5, where his stuff will work better against the back end of opponents’ rotations. Best rotation has Guthrie and Vargas at the back end, being low stuff, crafty veterans. Verlander against Guthrie or Vargas is a mismatch, against Shields or Duffy more of a coin flip. Have to at least break even on match ups and take advantage of mismatches.

  • Chad Woelk

    The Royals will never be able to sign the elite pitchers who have no risk because Glass won’t spend that type of money nor do many of those players want to play in KC. If Santana would sign for 4 years, at 44-48 million to come back to the Royals that is a good deal and hopefully Glass would be willing to do that. Santana could implode so it’s a risky move but their window to win this division is small and they should strike while they can in my opinion. Tough call though.

    • Ardent Shepherd

      Gil Meche did it. It’s not a matter of not being able to sign elite pitchers, it’s a matter of not putting a winning product on the field. As soon as we start to make the playoffs (or at least make a run at them), high end talent won’t want to come to KC where they figure they can’t win a championship. It has nothing to do with willingness to spend, but more to do with the culture of losing that is still rampant in Kansas City. This year will be very important for the future of the franchise under Dayton Moore.

  • Eric Akers

    The Tanaka signing could also make Samardzija more available. There was talk from him that if the Cubs got Tanaka, he would be willing to sign an extension. Would you rather trade some good pieces for him or sign Santana for 3 or 4 years?

    • cardsfanatik

      I don’t look at Samardzija as that good of a pitcher. He is ok, but he is nothing more than a 4 or 5 on a good ball club. I would much rather spend money to sign Erv, whom I believe to be the better pitcher anyway, than prospects for Jeff.

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