To paraphrase Rick Pitino, Ervin Santana is not walking through that door.
Finally, the saga has ended. Unfortunately, as we all likely expected, Santana will not be returning to the Kansas City Royals. Instead, he has signed a one year, $14 Million contract with the Atlanta Braves, a contract which is expected to be announced on Wednesday.
For Atlanta, the signing of Ervin Santana helps shore up a pitching staff that has been riddled by injuries throughout Spring Training. Thus far, Mike Minor, Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy have all been injured, with Medlen potentially in need of Tommy John surgery. The Braves other free agent signing for their rotation, Gavin Floyd, is coming off Tommy John surgery himself, and may not be back until late May. With the plethora of injuries to their rotation, Santana was a piece that the Braves sorely needed.
For Santana, the wait is finally over. After threatening to sit out until after the MLB Amateur Draft, he has gotten the one year deal that he sought once it became apparent that he would not get the type of commitment, in terms of years and dollar amount, that he felt he was worth. Now, he gets to attempt to prove that his stellar 2013 season for the Royals was not a fluke. If he can do that, then perhaps Santana gets the long term contract that he so desperately wanted.
For the Royals, they get that coveted draft pick. Since the Braves had not signed any free agents tied to draft pick compensation, the Royals get a second first round pick, the 28th selection. Kansas City now has four of the first 58 picks in this year’s draft, which could potentially result in a future windfall of talent for the major league roster. Moore now has a chance to keep that pipeline of talent going, and could possibly fulfill his dream of building a team almost exclusively from within. It would almost seem as though everyone wins, right?
Wrong. The Royals may feel as though they won, but in reality, they have not. Ervin Santana signed for the same amount as the qualifying offer that he rejected. Yes, the Royals signed Jason Vargas, but it is highly unlikely that he produces the same type of season that Santana did last year. With Kansas City on the cusp of playoff contention, and a starting rotation made up of fourth starters once you get past James Shields, the Royals needed another potential top of the rotation starter. Instead, David Glass saves a few bucks and the Royals get a draft pick. Let the parade begin!
We all knew this was coming. We all knew, deep down, that Ervin Santana was not going to return to the Royals. Yet, there was still that faint glimmer of hope the longer he remained a free agent. Now, that hope has been completely dashed. Will the Royals playoff hopes be dashed as well?