The Mets announced Friday that they’ve agreed to terms with right-hander Ervin Santana on a minor league contract. The deal is still pending a physical. Assuming he passes that test, he’d head to Port St. Lucie to begin building his arm strength back up.
Santana, 36, missed nearly all of the 2018 season after undergoing surgery to repair a tendon in his right middle finger just prior to Spring Training, and the Twins declined a $14MM option on him last November. He signed a minor league pact with the White Sox this offseason but was released after just three unsuccessful starts with the team.
Despite the poor showing in 2018-19, Santana was a consistently and perhaps quietly effective mainstay in the Twins’ rotation in the preceding three seasons. From 2015-17, he pitched to a 3.47 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 and even was named to the American League All-Star team in 2017. That year, he racked up 211 1/3 innings, tossed five complete games (three shutouts) and finished out the season with a strong 3.28 earned run average.
The Mets’ rotation hasn’t performed as well as hoped in 2019, and while no one would reasonably expect Santana to return to his 2017 levels, he could eventually push Jason Vargas for the fifth spot in the rotation once he’s built back up after going more than a month since last pitching in the White Sox organization. If nothing else, he’ll eventually serve as a depth option in the event of an injury at the big league level. New York has been using Wilmer Font in that role but has received just 10 1/3 innings of 7.84 ERA ball in three starts since trading a low-level minor leaguer for him.