Potential trade candidate Ervin Santana tossed a complete-game shutout yesterday for the Twins, limiting the Athletics to two hits without a walk while tossing just 100 pitches. Santana dropped his ERA 44 points in the process and is now sporting a 1.63 ERA over his past four starts. Obviously, a nice four-start stretch isn’t going to undo all of the damage Santana did to his trade stock with a rocky start to the season, but 93 innings with a 4.06 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 42.9 percent ground-ball rate looks rather solid on the whole. He has about $6.5MM remaining on his salary in 2016 and is owed $13.5MM in each of the next two seasons, plus a $1MM buyout of a 2019 option. He’s not a cheap option, but given how few starters will be on the open market this winter, adding a durable mid-rotation cog could make sense for a number of contenders this summer.
- Santana wasn’t the only starter of note in that contest, as Athletics righty Sonny Gray was also on the bump. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the match-up drew attention from quite a few scouts, with representatives from the Blue Jays, Royals, Orioles, Marlins and Cardinals among those in attendance to see the two potential trade candidates throw. Oakland skipper Bob Melvin said that he felt Gray may be turning a corner after the showing, in which he battled through six innings with only one earned run on the board. Gray did allow four walks, but worked through some tough spots and, in Melvin’s words, “found a little of his mojo.” With Gray showing some life and the A’s continuing to muddle through the season, Slusser says that some rival executives feel there’s daylight for a deal on Oakland’s staff ace. There’s little question that the Twins would at least be open to moving Santana, and he’d represent a less costly addition for those organizations in need of rotation help (on the prospect side of the equation, at least; his contractual obligations would need to be worked out).
- As the Blue Jays eye rotation pieces, the club is also taking a cautious route with All-Star right-hander Marco Estrada. The veteran expressed disappointment that he’ll need a DL stint to rest his ailing back, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports, particularly since it means he’s virtually certain not to appear in the mid-summer classic as a capstone to his remarkable tale. But he acknowledged that the move was prudent. “I haven’t had much sleep just knowing that there might be a possibility I don’t get the opportunity to pitch in this game. And I guess my worst nightmare unfortunately came true,” said Estrada. “But in the long run this is the right thing to do. And I think this is going to benefit me in the future.” Though the Jays’ staff has been a strength, it’s not hard to see why the club is on the hunt for more arms. In particular, there’s still no reason to believe that Toronto will back away from its plan to move Aaron Sanchez to the pen to limit his innings. Though Drew Hutchison represents a better-than-average insurance policy — he has had success in the past and has been effective this year at Triple-A — he may be needed to step into Sanchez’s shoes. As the club’s depth chart shows, that would leave the organization a bit thin behind its front five.
- The Dodgers have no shortage of pitchers in various stages of the rehabilitation process, and you can add Brett Anderson to the list of those that could return this summer. Manager Dave Roberts told reports, including Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), that the southpaw might make it back by the middle of August if he continues to progress from his back surgery.
- Things haven’t gone smoothly of late for the Giants’ bullpen, and now the club will be without righty Cory Gearrin for at least two weeks. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports, Gearrin has been diagnosed with a strained right shoulder, though the expectation is that he won’t miss much (if any) time beyond the minimum. It helps, too, that the club has welcomed back Sergio Romo, but all in all it wouldn’t be surprising if San Francisco chases a big relief arm over the coming weeks.