3:57pm: The Twins have announced that Pelfrey, not May or top prospect Alex Meyer, will step into the rotation.
3:53pm: Via the MLBPA, Santana has apologized and denied ever knowingly taking a banned substance:
“This is unexpected news for me and my family. I am issuing this statement so the public knows where I stand. First, my deepest apologies to my family, fans, colleagues, teammates and my current employer the Minnesota Twins. I am very disappointed that I tested positive for a performance enhancing drug. I am frustrated that I can’t pinpoint how the substance in question entered my body. I would never knowingly take anything illegal to enhance my performance. What I can guarantee is I never knowingly took anything illegal to enhance my performance. That’s just not me, never has been and never will.”
3:38pm: Twins right-hander Ervin Santana has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for the performance enhancing drug Stanozolol, the league announced.
Clearly, this move is devastating news for a Twins team that committed $54MM — a franchise-record for free agent spending — to Santana on a four-year deal this past offseason. Santana was signed to bring stability to a Twins rotation that has been among the league’s worst in each of the past four seasons. The team has issued the following statement regarding Santana’s suspension:
“We were disappointed to learn of the suspension of Ervin Santana for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball’s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing substances from our game. Per the protocol outlined in the Joint Drug Program, the Minnesota Twins will not comment further on this matter.”
Santana had projected to slot in behind Phil Hughes in the Twins rotation, joining Kyle Gibson, Ricky Nolasco and Tommy Milone in the starting five. One might imagine that Mike Pelfrey, who had previously expressed disappointment in being moved to the bullpen, might get a chance to finally provide the Twins with some healthy innings in the rotation, although I’d imagine that prospect Trevor May will at least garner some consideration as well.
Santana is slated to earn $13.5MM this season, so the Twins will recover approximately half of that sum while he is on the restricted list without pay. Nonetheless, that’s hardly a silver lining for Minnesota. Left-handed reliever Aaron Thompson has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take Santana’s roster spot, though no official announcement has been made as to who will step into the rotation in his stead.