TwinsCentric was formed by Twins super-bloggers Seth Stohs, Nick Nelson, Parker Hageman and John Bonnes. Together they publish at and have authored books, e-books and magazines that provide independent and in-depth coverage of the Minnesota Twins from a fan's perspective. You can contact them at

Read more about them.

TwinsCentric: Profiling free agent pitcher Ervin Santana

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: October 29, 2013 - 11:57 PM

This is the fourth in an ongoing series examining high-profile free agent starters that may be of particular interest to the Twins. You can follow the rest of the series by checking in regularly at Twins Daily.

The Royals took a gamble last offseason when they traded for Ervin Santana, who was coming off an ugly season in Anaheim where he went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while coughing up a league-leading 39 home runs. Kansas City didn't have to give up much in the deal, but they did take on a $12 million commitment to a pitcher in the wake of a poor season. For a club that's hardly been known for aggressive, win-now type moves, the splash certainly drew some attention (especially in combination with the blockbuster James Shields trade).

The Royals ended up with their highest win total (86) since 1989 this season, and Santana played a big part, bouncing back in a major way to post a 3.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 211 innings. Considering that the right-hander had preceded his 2012 clunker with strong seasons in both 2011 and 2010, his down year looks like the outlier. As a 30-year-old with a recent record of success and the ability to miss some bats, Santana is arguably the top starting pitcher openly available this winter outside of Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka.

Are the Twins prepared to become involved in what is sure to be a competitive market with the hopes of once again adding a Santana to the top of their rotation? Let's take a look at the pros and cons.

Why Does He Fit?

On a basic level, the problem with Twins pitching these days is quite obvious: they allow way too many hits. As a staff in 2013, they allowed the most knocks of any MLB team (1,591) and among the 11 pitchers that made at least one start for Minnesota, nine allowed an average of more than 10.0 hits per nine innings. To put that in some context, the American League average for H/9IP was 8.8 and only four qualifying pitchers finished the season with a mark of 10.0 or above.

Santana would be a refreshing change of pace. His career H/9IP rate is 8.7 and he hasn't allowed more than a hit per inning since 2009. Even in 2012, when he struggled, Santana held opponents to a .238 batting average and registered a solid 1.27 WHIP; his disappointing results were largely tied to an absurdly high home run rate that was mostly out of line with the rest of his career, and almost surely wouldn't be repeated at Target Field.

While he had a few elbow issues crop up in 2012 (another part of the reason Kansas City took a risk in acquiring him) he's mostly been injury-free since 2009, averaging 32 starts and 210 innings per season.

Why Doesn't He Fit?

Well, cost is going to be the main factor. I'm willing to believe that Terry Ryan and the Twins are prepared loosen the purse strings for a guy they really like, but even as a strong fit Santana may have priced himself out of their range with an outstanding season in KC. Since he carries fewer question marks than fellow top free agent talents such as Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Phil Hughes, Santana could be the most coveted option for clubs seeking reliable help at the top of the rotation (and looking to avoid the Tanaka sweepstakes). That means he may be looking at a contract approaching (or even exceeding) $100 million.

Other than his price tag, it's tough to name a reason the Twins shouldn't at least pursue Santana. He's largely been a very good pitcher in recent years, he's reasonably young, he throws hard with good command and he's been quite durable. He's probably not going to be an "ace" in the traditional sense, but he might be the closest thing you'll find on this year's market. He's a safer bet than most the alternatives.

What Will He Cost?

Offseason Handbook estimate: five years, $80 million. As always, the contract could easily prove larger since we can't really anticipate how much the new revenues will inflate the market, but I have a hard time believing he'll get less than that. Santana is coming off a career year and has a more consistently strong recent MLB track record than any of his free agent peers.


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 74 4th Qtr 11:11
Portland 91
Phoenix 102 4th Qtr 10:30
Sacramento 90
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 12/27/14 1:10 PM
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question