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.
As of a week ago, Ervin Santana still was seeking a four-year deal in the $60M range. Chances of him getting anything close growing slimmer.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 23, 2014
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.