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MLB Storylines: Is Ervin Santana the next to sign?

MLB Storylines: Is Ervin Santana the next to sign?
February 10, 2014
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In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @ajnicholsIBI.

Here are the stories from Sunday, February 9th.

Top Stories

  • According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Ervin Santana may finally be heading toward a contract agreement. The Blue Jays and Orioles have both been linked to Santana, and Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported that the Orioles plan to strongly pursue either Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez this week.

News and Notes

  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that there is mutual interest between the Pirates and Kendrys Morales, but Pittsburgh may still prefer to find their first baseman through a trade. However, a small market team like the Pirates may find the draft pick compensation tied to Morales too high of a price.
  • Cafardo also said that the Mets are the favorite to land shortstop Stephen Drew, but Red Sox players still text Drew, hoping that he will return to Boston. Red Sox general manager told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on their MLB Network Radio show that he has kept in touch with Drew throughout the offseason, but does not foresee anything happening between his club and the shortstop before Spring Training begins.
  • Contrary to Cafardo's report on Drew, Newsday's Marc Craig wrote that the Mets and Drew have not talked much recently.
  • More from Cafardo: There appears to be plenty of interest in South Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon, and one National League source said he could go to anybody.
  • According to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, Paul Maholm knows that if Josh Beckett is healthy and named the fifth starter this spring, he will be pitching out of the Dodger bullpen.
  • Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that lefty Nate Robertson has spoken to several teams about a chance to earn a bullpen spot this spring. Robertson has not pitched in the Majors since 2010, but spent last season with the Rangers Triple-A affiliate, posting a 3.04 ERA in 50.1 innings.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times said that former Indian Johnny Damon is open to returning to the MLB as either a player or a coach.

User Comments

Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 8:26 PM EST
I sure hope that the Indians' recent inaction is not due because they believe they have a shot at signing Masterson. There are two reasons:

1. I still don't believe he stays here long-term (may be wrong on this, but I don't think the arbitration case, specifically the distance between the two amounts, is a good sign).

2. I have doubts and don't believe that signing him to a long-term and large-amount contract is in the Indians' best interest (i.e. I don't think they should sign him long-term, especially if he'll cost more in dollars, years, or both over Jimenez to sign long-term).

I just think this could backfire to where they bring back neither long-term (and that has already been discussed how that could hurt the Indians in the future in another thread), or it has the capability of really strapping down the Indians financially long-term and could burn them, since I'm not confident in Masterson's ability to put together strong years consistently, as he hasn't done it yet. Plus, I just don't think he's an elite pitcher that's worth a really long-term, large contract (4+ years at the rate Jimenez might get or more).

If that's the reason the Indians haven't made a move to bolster the rotation yet (I.e. resign Jimenez), I'll be a bit disappointed and concerned that it could really come back to sting them long-term. I hope it doesn't, but Masterson's overall track record doesn't instill me with a great deal of confidence, less so than Jimenez does, in fact.
Willie
February 10, 2014 - 7:49 PM EST
As ST creeps closer and closer, it seems more likely the Indians will have an opportunity to take advantage of a depressed mkt on some talented players. Pitching (in all forms) should be priority. Nonetheless, if Jimenez and Santana find homes before Morales and Drew, the Indians IMHO should pursue 1 of 2 of them.

According to Rosenthal, the Indians haven't been in contact with Jimenez for sometime. Rumors indicate the Tribe has come back to Ervin Santana as an option. I mentioned this a few days ago, but I'll recap my thoughts.

If for whatever reason the Indians sign Santana over Jimenez, the Indians would lose their first rd pk, but gain the comp pk with the loss of Jimenez. For the Tribe that will equate to dropping about 10 slots in the draft, but they would still have a comp pk and a competitive lottery pk before the second rd. That's 2 top 50 pks with large chunks of pool money attached.

Personally, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Indians pull something off in the next few days. That might mean signing Santana or even Morales for under mkt value deals. I believe this was / is the Indians plans...fill all possible needs and then jump back into the mkt late to shop for deals. Not a bad plan for a small mkt club looking to take advantage of the mkt on their terms.
yourtribe
February 10, 2014 - 7:37 PM EST
Matt, its just not the city. What about all the suburbs? Clev gets a ton of fans from Akron, Canton, Youngstown, warren and out to Toledo and ashtabula. Yes balt metro is a little bigger but they took a big hit with the Nats. Toronto is much bigger.

For some reason fans stayed home last year. I was at the balt game after labor day when there was about 6k actually there!!! And we were in the race. An embarrassment. No excuse. Dolans spent money, team contended and no one showed. I'd be pissed if I was them.
Matthew
February 10, 2014 - 5:30 PM EST
Joseph--

Cleveland
Population: 390,000
2013 MLB Attendance: 1,572,000
2012 MLB Attendance: 1,603,000

Baltimore
Population: 620,000
2013 MLB Attendance: 2,357,000
2012 MLB Attendance: 2,102,000

Toronto
Population: 2,500,000
2013 MLB Attendance: 2,536,000
2012 MLB Attendance: 2,100,000

To answer your question, yes. Toronto is a huge market. Baltimore isn't a big market, but it is a significantly bigger market than Cleveland, and gets about 600K more attendees per year. If 600K more fans showed up last year, I am sure the Dolans would fit Ubaldo in the budget.
Walter
February 10, 2014 - 5:23 PM EST
Joseph

Before this ownership has to go I guess Haslem and Gilbert are head of them. At least the Indians are not the laughing stocks of MLB.

Didn't we sign Swisher and Bourn last year?

Joseph Devito
February 10, 2014 - 5:08 PM EST
The same old nonsense; we lose players and other teams are doing the signings. The Orioles and Bluejays will sign either Santana or Jimenez. And where are the Indians, as usual on the sidelines. I guess the Orioles and Bluejays are big market teams. This ownership needs to go NOW. Please sell the team and put us out of our misery. And keep your Murphys and Marcums and La Hairs, they all belong in the scrap heap, not the majors.
Hermie13
February 10, 2014 - 5:00 PM EST
Some interesting notes on AJ Burnett....

Reports are saying that both the Phillies and the O's could be out on him, despite them being listed as the two favorites just last week. Both made sense as he reportedly wants to play near his Maryland home.

If you take those two teams out...you have the Nationals nearby, though they seem pretty set in the rotation. Though then again they seemed pretty well set at the backend of the bullpen last year and signed Soriano late.

If the Nats pass though....closest teams would be the NYs and Pittsburgh. Can't see a Yankee reunion personally. Mets....does that really make sense for either party? Pirates make sense but they've added Volquez and still have Wandy around. I'm sure they can find a spot for a guy like Burnett in the rotation but financially does it still make sense?


And if all 3 of them are out....the next closest city/team to his offseason home?....That would be the Cleveland Indians (less than a 6 hour car ride to his home).

Sure it's probably a pipe-dream but Burnett was better than Jimenez or Santana last year and should be cheaper (at least in years)....plus doesn't cost a pick in any form. I'm sure he'll cost more than $10M, probably closer to $14-15M, which would put the Tribe payroll around $95M. Maybe that's impossible...but man would he look get at the top of the rotation with Masterson...
Walter
February 10, 2014 - 4:30 PM EST
Is there a chance the Indians are waiting to sign some one else after the arbitration process is concluded? Masterson is the last Indian arb is on Feb 20th?

Or with pitchers or catchers reporting tomorrow , would the Indians want to sign an additional pitcher would that happen within the next 24-48 hrs?
Hermie13
February 10, 2014 - 3:08 PM EST
"If the Indians could sign right handed power, I'd choose that signing over another starter at this stage."


Interesting to note from last year

Tribe's offensive ranks vs LHP:

Runs scored: T-1st in all of baseball
Team OPS: 1st in all of baseball
Team SLG: 3rd in all of baseball (3rd in AL)
Team AVG: 1st in all of baseball
Team OBP: 1st in all of baseball
Team XBH: 5th in all of baseball (5th in AL, 12 XBH behind leader)

Ranks vs RHP last year...

Runs scored: T-13th in all of baseball (8th in AL)
Team OPS: 14th in all of baseball (9th in AL)
Team SLG: 13th in all of baseball (9th in AL)
Team AVG: 21st in all of baseball (11th in AL)
Team OBP: 14th in all of baseball (7th in AL)
Team XBH: 16th in all of baseball (8th in AL...77 XBH behind leader)


I'm fine with getting a RH power bat as long as that bad crushes RHP. Tribe was great against lefties last year and not just the first month when Reynolds was on fire. As Jim said, we need power in general...not really RH power.
Jim
February 10, 2014 - 2:46 PM EST
When you look at Santana and Jimenez, it may simply be coming down to what one or the other is willing to do. If the Indians are still risk-averse to signing a starter to a long-term deal...or perhaps...planning on signing Masterson or at least making a push for him, then they may be in on Santana and not Jimenez simply because he'll sign a shorter deal. My guess is they'd look at their own first round pick and that sandwich pick in the mid-30's as near equivalent.

Last year, the #22 pick was slotted $1.9 million. The competitive balance picks from #28-#39 were worth from between $1.43 and $1.78 million. Obviously, when it gets down to the nitty gritty, $500,000 can be a big deal, but if they can steal Santana or Ubaldo for a savings (in their eyes) of more than $500,000, and it appears that's a likely scenario depending on what you value these starters at, then it's a no brainer...
Jim
February 10, 2014 - 2:39 PM EST
For me...you can never have too many starters. I agree that we need right-handed power, or really, just power in general, but at the end of the day, I'd always overstock my rotation. I just don't have faith in a staff in which you literally have one starter who has pitched an entire season as a starter at the big league level.

The Indians have been waiting all offseason to address this with their eyes likely on whomever was left. We'll see. I doubt there are going to be over-aggressive team at this point, so I do think the Indians will be in play...depending on years.

You also have to wonder what they are seeing with regards to Carrasco/Tomlin/Bauer/Marcum...obviously not enough to NOT go after someone at this late stage...
Mike
February 10, 2014 - 1:48 PM EST
If the Indians could sign right handed power, I'd choose that signing over another starter at this stage. For that reason I hope the Indians aren't competing for Ubaldo at this point, unless we aren't resource constrained to only one additional player. Remember what a key role Mark Reynolds played in the Indians early season success last year, even if he faded to nothing after two months.
Hermie13
February 10, 2014 - 1:26 PM EST
Ubaldo sort of does cost a pick to sign though. If he signs with anyone other than Cleveland we'd get a pick around 35 (or in that range). Signing Santana (or any other QO guy) does cost us a higher pick (our actual 1st rounder) but if you felt Santana was better than Ublado then I could see some logic in signing him (not saying I think Santana is better though).


The Indians could be sitting on 3 first round picks this year....obviously understand last year signing QO guys as the 1st rounder was protected but with the extra 2 picks this year I think you have to consider signing a QO guy if you feel the price is right.
Joe Chengery
February 10, 2014 - 12:07 PM EST
This (the starting pitching depth and the risk of injury and/or performance dropoff) is all the more reason why I want to see the Indians bring back Jimenez. Between Jimenez and Santana, I'd take Jimenez for the following reasons:

1. Jimenez has a better track record (as inconsistent as Jimenez has been, Santana has been more so).

2. I think Jimenez has better stuff than Santana.

3. Jimenez and Santana probably sign for close to the same amount, but Jimenez won't cost a draft pick or the draft pool money.

Combine all three reasons, and I see the Indians only being in on Jimenez, not Santana. Yes, you could make the argument that the Indians would gain the draft pick from Jimenez to make up for the loss for signing Santana, but unless Santana signs for a great deal less in terms of cost, years, or both (and I don't see that happening), the better bet would be to resign Jimenez. All of the knocks you could make against Jimenez can also be applied to Santana, and arguably, to a greater degree. Plus, as mentioned, I think Jimenez is the better pitcher overall, plus the Indians are familiar with him.

Unless there's a surprise discrepancy between these two in signing contracts, I would have to think the Indians are in on Jimenez, not Santana.
Hermie13
February 10, 2014 - 10:11 AM EST
@Walter

I think out of Carrasco, Tomlin, Marcum, and Bauer we could find a starter that really surprises and steps up too. But we're likely to see one of the other four in the rotation (Masterson, Salazar, Kluber, McAllister) to struggle or get hurt.
Clay
February 10, 2014 - 9:29 AM EST
FWIW on The Twitter & MLBTradeRumors.com

Per Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis

"@DarrenWolfson: No #MNTwins interest in FA Ervin Santana. Told Balt., Seattle, Dodgers, Cleveland, & the Yankees all have inquired in the last few days."
Clay
February 10, 2014 - 8:35 AM EST
I should also have said, I'm not comfortable with our depth options because of the other 4 arms in the rotations.

Questions remain about Salazar over a full season despite his upside and Macallister, Masterson, and Kluber all missed portions of the season.

My concern isn't which of Carrasco, Bauer, Tomlin, Marcum etc can be the fifth starter, it's who steps up when the inevitable happens and we lose a starter.
Walter
February 10, 2014 - 8:30 AM EST
I believe out Marcum/Carrasco/Bauer and Tomlin there will be a pleasant surprise from this group this year that beats fans expectations. I guess we will find out soon. The journey of the 2014 season begins on the 11th when pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear.
Clay
February 10, 2014 - 8:17 AM EST
I get that Paul Maholm is more if a BOR guy but I'm shocked he got so little attention as a lefty.

I keep some hope for AJ Burnett to sign with the Indians but understand it's not likely.

I would still be more comfortable with another starter of some kind brought into the fold. Burnett? Capuano? I suppose other tha Burnett, not many of the other options outside if Santana and Jimenez bring a whole lot.

I'm just not comfortable with Carrasco, Bauer, Marcum, Tomlin, or even House as 5th starter/depth options.
Arabian Heavy
February 10, 2014 - 8:10 AM EST
No kidding. It's getting pretty late in the game for Ubaldo and Santana. Pitchers and catchers reporting this week. These guys have gotta sign soon. I'm just fine if Ubaldo leaves unless the Indians can get him on a 1-year deal.
Tony
February 10, 2014 - 1:35 AM EST
Have to think that both Jimenez and Santana sign this week. If they want to start the season on time, they can't afford to miss too many days of spring training, whereas a hitter could sign in the first week or two of March and probably still be fine.

Really looks to me like the Mariners, Blue Jays and Orioles are in line to get Jimenez and Santana. I would be surprised if both did not end up at one of those three spots.

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