10:54AM: Twins manager Paul Molitor told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (Twitter links) and other reporters that a new recovery plan for Santana will emerge after he visits a hand specialist on Tuesday. “I don’t know when the next time he’s going to pitch will be,” Molitor said, in regards to the possibility of Santana being shut down for the season.
10:11AM: The Twins placed right-hander Ervin Santana on the 10-day disabled list due to “reoccurring symptoms related to his original injury to his third finger MCP joint on his right hand.” Santana’s roster spot will be taken by outfielder Robbie Grossman, who was activated from the DL after missing time due to a hamstring strain. The team also announced that outfielder Johnny Field was optioned to Triple-A, while righty Alan Busenitz was called up.
Santana underwent surgery on his finger in February and, after a much lengthier-than-expected rehab period, only made his season debut on July 25. Some good performances might have made Santana into a trade candidate during the August waiver period, though the veteran righty didn’t look sharp in any of his outings, posting an 8.03 ERA and 5.8 K/9 over 24 2/3 innings, while allowing a whopping nine home runs in that brief stretch. Given today’s news, it’s fair to assume that Santana’s struggles were due in part to continued issues with his finger.
With only six weeks remaining on the schedule, the Twins could potentially just shut Santana down for the remainder of the season. That also creates the possibility that Santana has pitched his last game for the franchise, as it seems unlikely that Minnesota would exercise its $14MM club option on Santana for 2019 given his disastrous 2018 campaign. The Twins could decline the option and then look to re-sign Santana at a lower salary, though several teams could be interested in such a buy-low arrangement with a pitcher who is less than a year removed from a seventh-place finish in AL Cy Young voting.