Twitter has been very active this afternoon with reports that the Blue Jays are close to signing free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana.
Reports are emerging that the Blue Jays have offer on the table with Santana for a one-year deal that will pay him around the same amount that he would have made had he accepted a qualifying offer: around $14 million. According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN, if no better offer is made by another team before 5pm eastern time, Santana will sign with the Blue Jays.
— Enrique Rojas/ESPN (@Enrique_Rojas1) March 8, 2014
If this deal comes to pass, this is a huge win for the Blue Jays and Anthopoulos who had been taking a great deal of criticism for having stood pat for most of this offseason. Santana solidifies a rotation that would have otherwise been far more dependent on rookies and journeymen to get through the season. The ripple effect is huge: no longer will the Blue Jays be forced to rush Hutchison, Drabek, Stroman or Nolin into the Toronto starting rotation. Dirk Hayhurst has been particularly vocal today on Twitter, expressing the sentiment that the Blue Jays are dangerously close to “rushing their pitching prospects into failure scenarios,” like the Baltimore Orioles did.
W/O Santana, the Jays are dangerously close to mimicking what Orioles did in rushing their pitching prospects into failure scenarios. — Dirk Hayhurst (@TheGarfoose) March 8, 2014
The other “win” that the Blue Jays get by signing Santana (in addition to getting a solid pitcher in a rotation that needs above-replacement-level starters) the Blue Jays will be eligible to “profit” on their draft picks if they make a qualifying offer to Santana at the end of the year (provided he signs elsewhere). Right now, the Blue Jays are giving up their second round pick because their two first rounders are protected. If Santana signs, rejects a qualifying offer at the end of 2014 and signs somewhere else, the Blue Jays will a receive supplemental round pick in the 30s or so in the 2015 draft, ending up with a higher pick than they would have gotten with their 2014 second rounder.
That said, I am a little bit worried. The rumour was that the Orioles were another of the teams in the bidding for Santana and, with the upgrades they’ve made already, I would be worried about a divisional rival snatching up another starting pitcher (they’ve already signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Suk-Min Yoon this offseason) away from the Blue Jays. With such a short contract term and such a reasonable dollar figure, there are absolutely no excuses for the Blue Jays to outbid just about anyone else to get Santana.
Giddy up, AA. Make sure that the Orioles don’t jump in at the last minute to pick up the pitcher everyone else in the world thinks that you should sign.
Don’t forget about The 2014 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook, available March 31 as an ebook at Smashwords.com, Amazon, Apple iBooks, Kobo and other fine retailers for $7.99. Pre-order information coming soon!