The Royals' trade for Ervin Santana was the best move of the offseason, ESPN's Buster Olney writes. Santana has posted a 2.97 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in a resurgent season in Kansas City. Right behind the Santana deal, Olney says, was the Braves' deal for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson, followed by the Orioles' signing of Nate McLouth. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Olney's ESPN colleague Jerry Crasnick writes about Francisco Liriano's surprising season with the Pirates. Sure enough, just hours after Crasnick's article was published, Liriano allowed ten runs against the Rockies at Coors Field. But he has still been a big part of the Pirates' stellar year, and for very cheap — Liriano has a complex contract based on the timing of his return from a broken humerus suffered last offseason, but the deal tops out at $4.75MM for 2013, and includes a reasonable vesting option for 2014. Crasnick also names the Rays' James Loney, the Mets' Marlon Byrd, and others as being among the best cheap signings of the offseason.
- Astros manager Bo Porter isn't planning on returning to Washington to manage the Nationals after Davey Johnson retires at the end of the season, Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire of MLB.com report. "I'm the Houston Astros manager," says Porter. "I'm 100 percent entrenched into getting our situation here to where it is we want to be. The situation in Washington is completely out of my hands and — I'm going to give you my famous one — out of my jurisdiction." Porter is in the midst of a multi-year contract with the Astros, McTaggart and Abshire note, and could only leave for the Nats if the Astros decided to trade him or just let him depart. Neither scenario seems likely, however.
- Jeff Samardzija has struggled recently, but the Cubs don't think his contract situation has anything to do with it, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Samardzija allowed nine runs on Thursday against the Phillies, four starts after allowing nine against the Angels. "We’ve had some dialogue at different times, but nothing’s really changed on that front, so I don’t see why he would start pressing now as opposed to other times," says Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. Before the non-waiver trade deadline, Samardzija's name occasionally appeared in trade rumors, but it never looked particularly likely that the Cubs would deal him. The two sides reportedly will discuss a contract extension after the season is over. Samardzija is eligible for free agency after 2015.