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Johan Santana Rumors
Orioles hurler Johan Santana has torn his achilles tendon and will miss the season, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Baltimore had signed Santana to a minor league deal that included a $3MM base salary and up to $5.05MM in incentives.
The Orioles had just purchased Santana’s contract and moved him to the 15-day DL as he completed his rehab from left shoulder surgery. With Santana no longer an option, executive VP Dan Duquette says that the club will look to add depth over the summer, possibly via trade.
Though Santana was only working in the high 80s with his fastball, he had found success with that level of heat earlier in his career. Once perhaps the best pitcher in the game, Santana last threw in the bigs in 2012 with the Mets, when he posted a 4.85 ERA in 117 innings with 8.5 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. For his career, Santana owns a 3.20 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9.
Now 35 years old, and having already rehabbed two significant shoulder surgeries, it is fair to wonder whether Santana will make another attempt at a comeback. The initial word is that we should not count him out, per a report from Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter link). When asked if Santana’s career was in jeopardy, agent Peter Greenberg responded: “No. Not with this guy.”
While the Yankees have had “at least” internal discussions regarding Kendrys Morales, his bat wouldn’t solve all of the problems with the team, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Bombers’ bullpen has faltered of late and doesn’t have room for error given the lackluster offense, he opines. Meanwhile, Mark Teixeira‘s wrist offers no certainty, even if he did homer last night. Davidoff notes that Teixeira looked “tentative” from both sides during batting practice and “fiddled” with his surgically repaired right wrist while others took their cuts.
More notes from the AL East…
- The Orioles could be looking at a six-man rotation when Johan Santana is ready to join the club, manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. As the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina notes, the plan for Santana, who was placed on the 15-day DL after his contract was purchased on Monday, is to make one more start in extended Spring Training before heading on a rehab assignment. After two starts, the former ace would be on track to join the team on June 20. Said Showalter: “I’ve been hinting at going to six starters anyway. It’s easy to solve. It’s not a problem. Any time there’s good pitchers available, I’m in, especially with his pedigree.”
- The Red Sox continue to search high and low for an outfielder, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, who points out that the Sox are on pace to field their least-productive outfield group of the 162-game era. Cafardo runs down a list of some names that might potentially be available as the summer wears on, and he also reports that the Phillies have had three scouts following the Sox for their past five series.
The Orioles announced that they’ve selected the contract of Johan Santana and placed him on the 15-day disabled list as he continues his recovery from left shoulder surgery. Santana had an opt-out clause in his contract that would’ve allowed him to elect free agency at midnight tonight. Instead, he will be added to the team’s 40-man roster, though not the 25-man roster for the time being. MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko tweets that technically, Santana did exercise his opt-out, which is what prompted the team to instead purchase his contract and place him on the Major League disabled list.
Santana’s recovery has progressed nicely, as he’s pitched in extended Spring Training and is said to be eyeing a return to the Majors as early as June 18. The Orioles signed him to a minor league contract this offseason that came with a hefty $3MM base salary plus $5.05MM worth of incentives.
Santana, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, can now be sent on a minor league rehab assignment as he continues to build strength in his surgically repaired shoulder. The 35-year-old Legacy Agency client has a career 3.20 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2. BB/9 in 2025 2/3 innings for the Twins and Mets. Reports in early May indicated that his velocity had reached 89 mph, meaning he’s not far off from the 2009-10 speed at which he posted a combined 3.05 ERA in 365 2/3 innings.
Red Sox players made news this winter by campaigning openly for the re-signing of Mike Napoli. And Dustin Pedroia even agreed to defer salary in his extension, in part to free payroll space to make a run (which ultimately proved unsuccessful) at retaining Jacoby Ellsbury. As WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, staff ace Jon Lester — one of the players who pushed to keep Napoli — will almost certainly benefit from much the same treatment. The clubhouse clearly wants Lester to be kept in Boston, says Bradford, who notes that there was “some grumbling” after reports emerged of the club’s somewhat underwhelming extension offer.
Here’s more out of the American League:
- Southpaw Sean Burnett, who signed a two-year, $8MM deal with the Angels before the 2013 season, learned today that he has suffered a torn UCL for the second time in his career, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Burnett had just worked his way back from an elbow injury that cut him down after just 13 appearances in 2013, and now seems destined to miss the rest of the year. That makes it rather likely, of course, that the club will decide to pay him a $500K buyout rather than picking up his $4.5MM option for 2015. The Halos currently feature only one lefty in the pen in Wade LeBlanc. Though the team has some options stashed in the upper minors, such as Nick Maronde and Buddy Boshers, none has Burnett’s track record.
- As expected, the Orioles are working to secure an extension of the June 1 opt-out date in starter Johan Santana‘s minor league deal, reports Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Assuming that can be worked out, Baltimore hopes to set Santana on a course that could bring him back to the majors as soon as June 18.
- Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki said he would be open to extension talks if the club is interested, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s something that I think you’d be crazy not to listen,” he said. “You’re always open to those things.” Berardino notes that Minnesota previously extended former backstop Ryan Doumit at a similar point in the 2012 season, after originally signing him to a one-year deal as a free agent (as was the case with Suzuki). Nevertheless, a source says that it is still “too early” to consider a new deal for Suzuki, who could also be setting himself up as a nice trade piece with his .297/.363.405 start.
- While the Twins seem to have made the right call in locking up Suzuki to a modest deal, they missed out on an even bigger opportunity back in 2009 — though the club was not alone in that respect. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, Minnesota was among about ten other clubs that made offers to outfielder Gregory Polanco which came in just under the Pirates’ winning bid of $175K.
Josh Beckett, who has undergone surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome and a torn meniscus in his left knee within the past 10 months, tossed his first career no-hitter and MLB’s first of the season as he and the Dodgers shutout the Phillies 6-0. Beckett struck out Chase Utley looking on his career-high 128th pitch for the 24th no-hitter in Dodgers’ history and the first for the franchise since Hideo Nomo 18 years ago. This is also the first time the Phillies have been no-hit since the Cardinals’ Bob Forsch turned the trick in 1978 and the first time they have been held hitless in Philadelphia since the Montreal Expos’ Bill Stoneman did so at Connie Mack Stadium in 1969. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted on Twitter the Phillies have now been shutout five times in their last ten home games and six times in their last 18 games overall.
In other news and notes involving the Phillies and baseball’s East divisions:
- Could offensive help be on the way for the Phillies in the form of top prospect third baseman Maikel Franco? GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is a possibility. “We’ll see whether it’s the right thing for us and the right thing for him,” said Amaro. “We’ll kick it around.” Franco, ranked as the game’s 17th best prospect by Baseball America and 23rd by MLB.com, is hitting .301 in May with an OPS of .871.
- In the wake of Prince Fielder‘s season-ending neck injury, the Rangers have inquired about Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore, a baseball source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The source indicated to Ladson nothing is serious and Moore is one of many first baseman in which the Rangers have an interest.
- Johan Santana has a June 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Orioles, but Executive Vice President Dan Duquette says that date is not a concern, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s open for discussion,” Duquette said. “It’s a fluid situation.” Santana remains in extended Spring Training and has not pitched more than four innings in an outing, but Duquette says the 35-year-old left-hander “is making good progress, he is throwing his pitches.“
With Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow going to the 60-day DL with a torn tendon sheath, the Star’s Richard Griffin writes that Morrow may well have thrown his last pitch for the club. As Griffin notes, the 29-year-old’s $10MM club option (which comes with a $1MM buyout) seems unlikely to be exercised at this point after yet another significant injury. Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the AL East:
- Indications are that the Blue Jays will look to keep power-hitting corner infielder Juan Francisco in the fold after Adam Lind is activated, tweets Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Discussing the situation, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes that Toronto could conceivably drop one of its eight relievers or shift Brett Lawrie into the club’s regular second base role.
- Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz discussed his difficult last year with MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, saying that it was hardest on his family. As for the qualifying offer situation, Cruz said he probably would have grabbed it had he known what was in store. “But it’s something that you risk and you trust your instincts,” said Cruz. “In this case, it wasn’t what I expected. But I’m happy with my decision and happy with where I am now. That’s the only thing that matters.” From the O’s perspective, executive VP Dan Duquette said that the deal was made when Cruz’s camp “adjusted what they were looking for in terms of the term” (i.e. length) of the deal. Cruz if off to a hot start, of course, posting a .294/.369/.596 triple-slash with nine home runs in his first 122 plate appearances with Baltimore.
- A less-consequential decision for the Orioles front office was the low-risk signing of one-time ace Johan Santana, who has been working his way back to full strength on a minor league contract. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter that Santana’s fastball has reached the 88-89 mph range, with his slider in the low-80’s and change in the mid-70’s. While that obviously represents a significant drop from his peak years, Santana posted an average fastball velocity of just 89.6 mph in his 2.98 ERA, 199-inning 2010 season.
- In a chat today, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick touched upon the situation of Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia. A scout recently told Crasnick that Sabathia’s offerings are “very fringy,” and that he will need impeccable control to be effective going forward. On the other hand, Crasnick opines that Sabathia has actually delivered decent value to New York on his massive contract. For what it’s worth, Sabathia’s unsightly 5.75 ERA through his first 40 2/3 innings in 2014 is much worse than his 4.16 FIP, 2.95 xFIP, and 2.92 SIERA marks. Indeed, while Sabathia has been hurt by the long ball (21.9% HR/FB rate) and a .361 BABIP, he is sporting 9.74 K/9 against just 1.99 BB/9 while generating a 50.8% ground-ball rate.
While Jeff Samardzija has been a chief subject of trade rumors this offseason, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio on SiriuxXM (via Bowden's Twitter feed) that his preference would be to sign the right-hander to a long-term extension. Samardzija said the same during an appearance on the broadcast (audio link here), as "I've always stated this is where I wanna be…this organization stuck by me and has given me the opportunity to be a starter." Despite the rumors, there has "obviously been a mutual interest between the two parties, for sure…[which] kinda makes everything else just talking, which is what you want it to be."
Here's some more news from around the game…
- Johan Santana never considered retirement in the wake of his latest shoulder surgery, as the veteran southpaw told reporters (including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli) that he didn't want to let his health dictate the end of his career. "I don't want to go out in the game like that. I want to go out of the game on my own terms, knowing this is going to be my last game, knowing this is going to be my last year," Santana said. The two-time Cy Young Award winner said he has "nothing to lose, [and] a lot to gain" from his incentive-heavy minor league deal with the Orioles.
- Jon Lester's cancer diagnosis in 2006 played a big part in his acceptance of his original multiyear deal with the Red Sox, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports. That contract will expire this offseason, and while Lester has no new news on the status of extension talks, he is hopeful a new deal will be settled soon.
- The Dodgers' surplus of pitching could force the team to make a tough cut in the form of right-hander Seth Rosin, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon writes. Rosin has pitched well thus far in Spring Training but L.A. might not have space for him on the roster, a situation that Saxon says could backfire like the team's cut of Kevin Gregg last spring. Rosin was selected off the Phillies' roster by the Mets in last December's Rule 5 draft and was then traded to the Dodgers, who now must keep Rosin on their Major League roster all season or else offer him back to Philadelphia for $25K.
- In a subscription-only piece for Baseball America, Matt Eddy and J.J. Cooper look at some of the offseason's key minor league free agent signings and some of the overall trends of this winter's minor league deals.
- Jim Leyland is happy in his position as special assistant to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and has no interest in returning to the Pirates organization, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I really don't want to come back to the organization,” Leyland said. “Not because I don't love it, but (because) they've set their tempo now and they have their own people in place. They don't need somebody like me hanging around and, really, I don't need to do that….I'll retire a Tiger.”
Justin Masterson is only looking for a three- or four-year extension from the Indians, a short-term arrangement that speaks to comfort in Cleveland both on and off the field, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes. While Masterson said that contract talks are "a challenging situation, especially for me. [I'm] not doing this because we need to get the most money ever. We also think about others who may come behind us. There are a lot of different factors you try to work in. Are we being true to our value or are we skewing it?" Also, by staying with the Tribe, Masterson noted that he could further enhance the Indians' growing reputation as an attractive destination for people to play.
Here's some more from around the AL Central…
- A short-term deal may also have a strategic element to it, as MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes that a three-year deal would cover Masterson past the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. It's widely expected that the qualifying offer system will be modified (or even scrapped) in a new CBA, so Masterson could take the security of a short-term deal now and avoid having his market diminished as a free agent next winter if he has qualifying offer draft compensation attached to his services.
- Also from Castrovince, Masterson's love of playing for Terry Francona "is the only reason these extension conversations have had any traction."
- Twins assistant GM Rob Antony discussed his club's pursuit of Johan Santana with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota only viewed Santana as a starting pitcher and would've been comfortable giving him a May 31 opt-out, Antony said, but the Twins simply weren't willing to sign Santana at the price he received from the Orioles. Santana will earn $3MM in base salary if he makes the Baltimore roster, plus potentially millions more in incentives.
- While Antony admitted that injuries could change the Twins' feelings about further additions, "right now I think what we’ve got in camp is what we’re working on.”
- Three months without the injured Andy Dirks as part of their left field platoon won't do much harm to the Tigers' playoff chances, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan writes. While Detroit is likely to replace Dirks with internal players, Sullivan notes that a more intriguing move would be to acquire an everyday outfielder who could then take over for Torii Hunter in 2015 and beyond.
- Jim Thome admits that he would "have to take that call" if another team contacted him about returning to the field, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Thome was hired as a special assistant to White Sox GM Rick Hahn last summer, though he never officially retired. While he would "always listen" about another playing opportunity, Thome enjoys his current position and has spoken of wanting to become a manager in the future.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter wouldn't rule out the possibility of his team adding Ervin Santana to the fold when asked by Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Said Showalter: "I wouldn't say that and be completely sure that it's true." Kubatko has garnered that the Orioles were comfortable going into the three-year, $30MM range but weren't interested at Santana's asking price of four years, $50MM. More on the Orioles, who officially signed a different Santana (Johan) yesterday…
- Executive vice president Dan Duquette wouldn't commit to whether or not Johan Santana will be used as a starter or reliever if he's able to eventually take the mound, tweets Kubatko. Santana's contract contains incentives for games started, though reports yesterday indicated that they viewed him as a relief option as well. Duquette says Santana's ultimate role will be determined once the team sees how his velocity progresses. The two-time Cy Young winner topped out at 81 mph in his most recent workout, but he's very early in his throwing program at this point.
- The offer Jarrod Saltalamacchia received from the Red Sox this offseason was the lowest of the six or seven offers presented to him, the catcher told reporters, including the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (Twitter link). The Boston Herald's Scott Lauber tweets that despite signing for a much lower average annual value, Saltalamacchia said he wouldn't have accepted a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, as he preferred multiyear security. The Globe's Matt Pepin has full quotes from Saltalamacchia, who said Boston's best offer was for two years, but "not a straight two-year deal," adding that there "were other things involved."
- Jon Lester told reporters, including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, that there have been no recent developments in his contract talks with the Red Sox. Lester, who has made his desire to stay in Boston well known, said he prefer to let agents Seth and Sam Levinson of ACES and GM Ben Cherington worry about those matters.
- Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida spoke with Rays non-roster invitee Erik Bedard about how he is adjusting to the new clubhouse and what it's like to come into camp looking for a job each year. Bedard says he didn't think back to his days with the Orioles when he faced them in his first Spring Training outing, because he doesn't know many of the players or coaches anymore. "Every team turns around every year. It's never the same. Nobody keeps the same guys anymore. They'll switch, trade, get released. Back in the day, everybody stayed."
2:21pm: Sherman has the incentive breakdown and other details (Twitter links). Santana would be owed a $100K termination payment if he is released before March 25th. The incentives (per games started) are as follows: $250K (5 starts); $350K (10); $500K (15); $750K (20); $150K (21 and 22); $200K (23 and 24); and $400K (25).
12:12pm: The Orioles have signed left-hander Johan Santana to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the team announced. Santana, a client of the Legacy Agency, reportedly has a $3MM base salary if he makes the roster and also can earn $5.05MM of "very makeable" incentives based on games started and days on the roster. Santana's deal is also said to contain a May 30 opt-out.
Santana, who turns 35 in 10 days, did not pitch in 2013 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder for the second time in three years. Santana's last work came in 2012, when he was excellent through the season's first half. That strong stretch was highlighted by the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, when Santana shut down a strong Cardinals lineup. However, Santana also walked five in the game and needed a whopping 134 pitches to complete the no-no — 26 more than he'd thrown in any other start of the year. Santana posted an 8.27 ERA over his next 49 innings before being shut down for the season.
The Orioles were one of seven teams to watch Santana's most recent throwing session, during which he topped out at just 81 mph. However, Santana still isn't close to being 100 percent, and that workout came very early on in his timetable to begin building up arm strength. MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli tweeted yesterday that the Orioles view Santana as a potential left-handed reliever, but the incentives suggest that the Orioles will at least try to give the former ace the opportunity to make some starts once he is healthy.
One of the best Rule 5 Draft selections in history, Santana broke out with the Twins in 2002, posting a 2.99 ERA in 108 innings. Over the next five seasons in Minnesota, Santana posted a 2.92 ERA and won a pair of AL Cy Young Awards before being traded to the Mets for a package of prospects highlighted by Carlos Gomez and former No. 3 overall draft pick Phil Humber. Santana signed a six-year, $137.5MM extension with the Mets and was solid when on the field but looks poor in hindsight due to his injury troubles.
Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com first tweeted that the two sides were nearing a deal and later added that it appeared to be done. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted the base salary and was the first to confirm the deal was finalized (Twitter link). MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweeted the incentives total, Kubatko added details (on Twitter) and Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted the opt-out date. Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio tweeted yesterday that Santana was in Orioles camp and wondered if something might be cooking between the two sides.