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Ervin Santana Rumors
Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony sat down for his yearly interview with Jesse Lund of SB Nation’s Twinkie Town, and the two discussed a number of topics, including the Twins’ offseason moves, the future of Torii Hunter in Minnesota, the 2015 rotation, the farm system in general and the timelines of vaunted prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The whole interview — split into a Major League portion and a Minor League portion – while lengthy, is well worth the read for Twins fans (and baseball fans in general). Here are some highlights…
- Antony explains to Lund that the Twins are aware of Hunter’s defensive decline but still feel that he can be adequate in right field. The Twins valued Hunter’s bat and also his experience and vocal leadership style — something the front office feels the team has lacked in recent years. Hunter “doesn’t have any interest in playing anywhere else,” Antony adds, noting that while he’s on a one-year deal, Hunter could return for future seasons as long as he remains healthy and productive. I’d imagine that would eventually require a reduced role for Hunter, possibly as soon as next season.
- Left-hander Tommy Milone struggled greatly after being acquired from the A’s on July 31, but the reason for his troubles may very well have been a benign tumor that was discovered in his neck after the season. Antony tells Lund that the tumor “took a long time to discover” but has since been removed.
- Milone will be one of several starters battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, alongside Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Tim Stauffer and Mike Pelfrey. Antony discusses the Twins’ signing of Ervin Santana and how leaving just one spot in the rotation may block some useful players but creates much-needed depth. He also confirms that the Twins had interest in Santana on a multi-year deal late last offseason. “I think we actually kind of picked up our conversations. He had a little bit better idea of where his market was [this offseason],” Antony adds.
- Shortly before the Santana signing, the Twins “took a run at some relievers” that ultimately signed elsewhere, per Antony. Mike Berardino reported in December that the Twins made an offer to Jason Frasor, so he’s likely one of the names in question. As for the others, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek are possibilities, as they signed with Houston just one day before the Twins added Santana. David Robertson and Andrew Miller also signed in the week leading up to Minnesota’s addition of Santana, though it strikes me as unlikely that the team made a serious run at either.
- Asked about a previous report that the Twins thought they had a pair of trades agreed upon before the other party took a different offer at the last minute, Antony replied: “It wasn’t anything major, where we were on the cusp of doing anything big. We had conversations with a few different clubs, and they showed some interest in our players and we exchanged names and those types of things … it didn’t evolve.”
- It was Phil Hughes‘ camp who first approached the Twins about an extension, Antony says, and the team was immediately receptive to the idea. The Twins recognized how steeply the asking price would increase if Hughes repeated his 2014 season and was only a year from free agency and “took an opportunity.” Antony feels that with Hughes getting financial security and the team getting a potential building block for its rotation, the trade worked out for both parties.
- The Twins’ front office feels the team underachieved in 2014 and was capable of winning 76-77 games rather than the 70 with which they finished. As such, Antony said he’s hopeful of finishing near or above the .500 mark this season and believes the team should be fighting for a playoff spot come 2016.
- While Minnesota used to shy away from pitchers who were likely destined for the bullpen near the top of the draft, Antony says their philosophical outlook has changed. Players with plus velocity and a strong secondary pitch are typically off the board early, he notes, and the Twins loaded up on such arms this year, grabbing the likes of Nick Burdi, Michael Cederoth and Jake Reed.
- Both Sano and Buxton could be with the team in 2015, with Antony specifying a September callup as a possibility for Sano while speaking more generally about a possible Buxton promotion. Additionally, Antony didn’t rule out the possibility of highly regarded right-hander Jose Berrios making the 2015 club at some point.
- Asked about the reasoning behind signing Santana as opposed to waiting until next offseason when there is a stronger crop of free agent starters, Antony cited a desire to get better for the 2015 season and faith that some of the arms in the system could eventually develop into front-end types to pair with Santana and Hughes. Specifically, he mentioned Meyer: “[H]opefully Alex Meyer is a guy that, six/seven years from now, people are saying ‘Glad the Twins signed him long-term’ … and he becomes one of those guys.”
- The Twins are hopeful that Sano, Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia will settle in as their 3-4-5 hitters of the future and don’t foresee adding any big-time power bats to the mix in the near term.
MONDAY: Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets that Santana’s contract contains just one option, which requires Santana to not only reach 200 innings in 2018 but also to reach 400 innings from 2017-18 and to pass a physical at the end of his 2018 season.
THURSDAY: The Twins have officially agreed to a four-year, $55MM deal with free agent starter Ervin Santana. The pact includes a $14MM club option ($1MM buyout) for a fifth year that will automatically vest if he throws 200 innings in 2018. He will earn $13.5MM annually over the guaranteed portion of the deal.
Santana, of course, settled for a one-year deal with the Braves last year at the value of the qualifying offer. By acting more quickly this time around, he was able to secure the multi-year pact he was looking for. Minnesota will need to give up a pick to add Santana, but will be able to hold onto its protected first-rounder.
He earned that payday by following up his excellent 2013 campaign with a solid effort last year. Santana threw 196 innings for Atlanta, posting a 3.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7% groundball rate. But there were signs that he was even better than his results, as FIP (3.39), xFIP (3.47), and SIERA (3.63) all liked his work.
Those numbers led MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes to predict that the 31-year-old righty would land a four-year, $56MM deal, and that is very nearly exactly what happened. As Dierkes noted, the Twins pursued Santana last year and clearly liked his arm.
Santana joins a staff that already features several arms from last year’s free agent market, including Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Minnesota will hope for an improvement from that group, which posted the league’s second-worst cumulative ERA last year. Several young arms are expected to begin moving into the big league mix as well, with the team likely hoping its open market spending will join up with the rise of a much-heralded overall prospect group.
Also of note is the fact that the AL Central continues to be a division to watch. The White Sox have announced their intention to contend and the Indians are a rising team that just added Brandon Moss. And that’s all before considering the big-spending Tigers and World Series runner-up Royals.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported that a deal was nearing (Twitter links). LaVelle A. Neall III of the Star Tribune (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) reported that it was done. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter), Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (likewise), Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (via Spanish-language tweet), and Passan (via Twitter) all contributed aspects of the deal’s workings.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Twins had interest in their own former pitcher Francisco Liriano on the free agent market, but when Liriano agreed to terms with the Pirates, the Twins quickly changed course and ended up with Ervin Santana, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. “He’s been very, very durable,” says Twins GM Terry Ryan, referring to Santana. “He’s got enough velocity (92-94 mph). He’s got a slider that is probably his best pitch. … He’s not afraid of the American League, which is another good thing. The (cold) weather is not scaring him off either, which is another good thing.” Berardino reports that Santana received good reviews of the Twins organization from Liriano, Alexi Casilla and Torii Hunter, all friends of his. Here’s more from the AL Central.
- The Tigers‘ Winter Meetings trades added to their 2015 payroll but might end up saving them money, writes MLB.com’s Jason Beck. The Tigers added Yoenis Cespedes and Alfredo Simon while trading away Rick Porcello. MLBTR projects Porcello to make $12.2MM next season. Cespedes will make $10.5MM, while MLBTR projects Simon will make $5.1MM. Leaving aside other potential minimum-salary players included in the trades, that means the Tigers’ payroll increased by roughly $3MM. If the Tigers had kept Porcello and signed a free-agent outfielder, though, their payroll probably would have increased by considerably more than that.
The Tigers didn’t trade Rick Porcello to the Red Sox due to a lack of progress in extension talks, Porcello’s agent Jim Murray tells FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi. The two sides “briefly discussed” extending Porcello’s contract beyond the 2015 season, Murray said, “but it was more in the context of something both parties may or may not talk about in the future.” Here’s some more from around the AL Central…
- Though Scott Boras has openly said the Tigers won’t get a chance to match an opposing team’s final offer for Max Scherzer, an industry source tells MLB.com’s Jason Beck that the agent will indeed give Tigers owner Mike Ilitch a chance to match “at least as a professional courtesy.” The good relationship between Boras and Ilitch has paved the way for several Boras clients to come to Detroit, perhaps most notably Prince Fielder in the 2011-12 offseason.
- Also from Beck, he passes along comments from Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski reiterating that nothing has changed between Detroit and Scherzer. “I guess anything can happen but we’re not in active pursuit at this time. We’re happy with our starting pitching,” Dombrowski said. “Again, we love him, but as I said at the time, we were the sole club that could sign him last spring. It didn’t work. I don’t think our odds improve with 29 other clubs that could potentially try to sign him.”
- Melky Cabrera is still the Royals‘ top choice to fill their hole in the outfield, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. If Cabrera can’t be signed, K.C. has such options as Nori Aoki, Colby Rasmus or Alex Rios as fallback options.
- The vesting option on Ervin Santana‘s four-year contract with the Twins will require more than just 200 IP from the righty in 2018 to guarantee his 2019 season, a source tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
- The Twins haven’t discussed extensions with Phil Hughes, Brian Dozier or Trevor Plouffe yet this offseason, Mike Berardino reports (via Twitter). Berardino suggests that talks could wait until January. The three players have very different contract situations — Dozier isn’t arbitration-eligible until next winter, Plouffe is projected to earn $4.3MM in his second of four arb years as a Super Two player and Hughes still has two seasons remaining on the three-year, $24MM deal he signed last winter. Of the three, Hughes would clearly be the most expensive to extend given his tremendous 2014 campaign.
Needless to say, it was a frenetic end to the Winter Meetings. Over the course of the morning, several forward-looking reports emerged. We’ll round those up here:
- The Giants are focused on free agent starter James Shields, according to Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News (via Twitter). San Francisco is alive on both Shields and Ervin Santana, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle adds on Twitter. The club met with Shields in San Diego, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reported yesterday (Twitter link).
- The Twins are still trying to land Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who adds that the Giants, Royals, and Yankees have also expressed interest in the free agent righty.
- The Marlins are still looking hard at the free agent and trade market for a first baseman, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. A deal could come at any time, Spencer adds.
- Attempts by the Marlins to deal for Justin Morneau of the Rockies have fallen apart, tweets MLB.com’s Tom Singer. He hears that Miami could rekindle talks with the Pirates regarding a Pedro Alvarez-for-Nathan Eovaldi swap.
- Communications between the Marlins and Rockies regarding Morneau will continue, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports on Twitter, though Harding’s source says he is not sure if the potential match “has legs.”
- The Dodgers did not make their moves as a prelude to dealing away Zack Greinke or dealing for Cole Hamels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has already done its heavy lifting with yesterday’s series of moves, says Sherman.
- After trading away second baseman Howie Kendrick, the Angels are “open to opportunities” for additions at the position, GM Jerry Dipoto tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (Twitter link). The Halos are not interested in free agents Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew, per Dipoto. Of course, the team just added Josh Rutledge to join in-house option Grant Green in the current mix.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Cole Hamels | Ervin Santana | James Shields | Jed Lowrie | Jerry Dipoto | Justin Morneau | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Pedro Alvarez | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Francisco Giants | Stephen Drew | Zack Greinke
Agent Scott Boras says he will not give the Tigers the opportunity to match offers for his client Max Scherzer, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. “This is not church bingo,” Boras told the media Wednesday. “You pretty much are in the market on a player. You tell all the teams and everyone involved that he can sign at any time. He’s open to signing at any time.” A Tigers official recently said that a new deal with Scherzer was “not happening,” however, so right now, it sounds like the Tigers aren’t that inclined to play bingo either. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
- The Yankees are considering signing Ervin Santana, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Santana has lately been connected to the Twins, Giants and Royals, with the Twins reportedly prepared to offer a deal in the range of four years and $50MM. The Yankees, meanwhile, are looking for starting pitching, but GM Brian Cashman has said he’s being “patient” at the Winter Meetings.
- The Nationals met with Jordan Zimmermann‘s agent, Mark Pieper, on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, James Wagner of the Washington Post writes. “It was a re-acquaintance, if you will, to talk about philosophies and parameters and that type of thing,” says Nats GM Mike Rizzo. The two sides had not attempted to negotiate an extension for Zimmermann since before the 2014 season. Zimmermann is eligible for free agency next winter. Last week, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Nationals would again attempt to extend Zimmermann. Wagner adds that the Nationals do not plan to trade Zimmermann, Doug Fister or Ian Desmond (all of whom are eligible for free agency at the end of the year) before the start of spring training.
- Jean Segura‘s struggles last season have the Brewers thinking they shouldn’t offer players extensions in the spring, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes. The Brewers offered Segura a six-year, $38MM extension last spring, but Segura’s camp turned it down. Segura had a poor first half, and the Brewers feel he was pressing. Near midseason, Segura tragically lost his infant son. He then returned to the team and struggled through July and August before hitting better in September. “I do think [the extension offer] was a distraction for Segura,” says GM Doug Melvin. “You’re around all the players (in camp) and they talk about it. I just think the focus on spring training is important to get ready.”
- The Braves have not contacted Kris Medlen since they non-tendered him, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. Medlen missed the entire 2014 season after having his second Tommy John surgery.
- Reliever Matt Albers, who missed much of the 2014 season due to shoulder trouble, will begin throwing in February, SportsNet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. More than one team has shown interest, Nicholson-Smith notes. Albers, 31, has appeared in parts of nine big-league seasons with the Astros, Orioles, Red Sox, Diamondbacks and Indians, posting a 4.42 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.
THURSDAY: Minnesota is prepared to offer Santana a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $50MM, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. The Royals and Giants are among the other teams involved in the Santana chase.
WEDNESDAY: The Twins are “pushing to get [a] deal” with free agent right-hander Ervin Santana, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) hears that the Twins have made an offer to Santana, though he cautions that the offer alone doesn’t indicate that a deal is close.
For what it’s worth, Twins GM Terry Ryan won’t even confirm that the Twins have interest in the free agent hurler, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets. He says that any news of a deal (or, presumably, a near-deal) is news to him.
Santana, 31, pitched to a 3.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7 percent ground-ball rate in 196 innings of work in 2014. While his ERA rose, metrics such as FIP (3.39) and xFIP (3.47) felt Santana had his best season since 2008.
Earlier today, we learned that the Giants are talking with Santana now that they have lost out on their top target, Jon Lester. The veteran is said to love “pitching in the cold,” so Minnesota might prove to be a solid fit for him.
There has been much speculation about Dan Haren‘s role in the impending six-player trade between the Dodgers and Marlins, as Haren has openly said that he’d rather retire than pitch anywhere but for one of the two Los Angeles teams. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto shot down speculation that the Marlins could flip Haren to his team, telling reporters (including Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register) that his team wasn’t trading for Haren.
As we wait for either of today’s two blockbuster Dodgers trades to be finalized, here’s some more news from Chavez Ravine…
- There are rumors around the Winter Meetings that the Dodgers are making these big moves to position themselves to sign James Shields, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports (Twitter link).
- The rumored Andre Ethier-for-Miguel Montero swap with the Diamondbacks fell apart because of how much money the Dodgers would have had to pay, Saxon reports (via Twitter). Arizona ended up dealing Montero to the Cubs yesterday.
- Also from Saxon, the Dodgers haven’t made any inquiries about Ervin Santana.
- The Dodgers have been talking to other free agent pitchers, however, including Jake Peavy, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets.
- Rumors of a Matt Kemp deal to the Padres “has legs,” a source tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The two sides have made some progress but nothing is official yet. Yasmani Grandal would be the main piece coming back from San Diego and Heyman hears the Dodgers have also asked for pitchers Joe Ross and Zach Eflin (though Heyman isn’t sure if both would be included if the deal happened.)
The Giants were said to have Santana on their list as a fallback option if they could not land Jon Lester. Now that Lester has gone to the Cubs, the Giants are following through on their pursuit of Santana, who turns 32 on Friday. SF will also reportedly look at free agents Max Scherzer and James Shields and Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels as alternatives.
Santana, 31, enjoyed a solid season for Atlanta in which he posted a 3.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7 percent ground-ball rate in 196 innings of work. While his ERA rose, metrics such as FIP (3.39) and xFIP (3.47) felt Santana had his best season since 2008.
A reunion between Max Scherzer and the Tigers is “not happening,” a club official tells Peter Gammons (via Twitter). What Detroit might do, however, is trade right-hander Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for a package of Yoenis Cespedes and Rubby De La Rosa. Rumors of a Porcello/Cespedes deal arose a few days ago but talks between the two sides were “not hot” according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Here’s some more from around the AL Central…
- The Angels are searching for middle infield help and the Twins‘ Eduardo Escobar is on their list of targets, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (also via Twitter) thinks the Halos could offer Minnesota a reliever in return, with Vinnie Pestano being “one name to watch.”
- Also from Berardino (on Twitter), the Twins haven’t yet talked to free agent starter Ervin Santana. The right-hander’s representatives are open to hearing from Minnesota, however, with a source telling Berardino that Santana “loves pitching in the cold.”
- Pat Neshek‘s agent Barry Meister tells Berardino that he had a “social discussion” with Twins GM Terry Ryan but the two sides “haven’t had any substantive discussions at all” about the reliever rejoining the club. Meister said that there has been “substantial interest“ from around the league in Neshek and another top reliever client, Sergio Romo.
- The White Sox are telling teams that Dayan Viciedo is available, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link). It’s no surprise that Viciedo is being shopped given that the Sox have been rumored to be exploring such outfield replacements as Melky Cabrera. Viciedo hit .231/.281/.405 with 21 homers in 563 PA last season, providing below-replacement level value with -0.9 rWAR.