Sep 14, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) walks off the field after being relieved in the seventh inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

MLB Trade Rumors: Ervin Santana Market Not What It Seems

Another day, another set of Ervin Santana rumors.

Yesterday, we learned that several teams had inquired about the services of Santana. Those teams included the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs, and Miami Marlins. Additionally, teams like the Royals, Arizona Diamondbacks, Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers could get involved if things fell right. Basically half of the league is in on Santana.

Today’s development is that many of the teams on this list are not being very aggressive in trying to obtain Santana. Here’s a rundown of all the teams mentioned above and their “interest” levels in Santana.

NEW YORK YANKEES (Interest: Low)

Andy Marino of the New York Daily News reports the Yankees are probably done with major moves for the rest of the offseason.

But it appears that, despite holes in the infield and bullpen, the Yanks really have completed most of their winter work, and will not stretch the budget much further.

A trade is always possible, but the Yankees do not appear positioned to add much payroll that way, either.  As one bit of evidence supporting that, they are no longer engaged in any effort to pry third baseman Chase Headley from San Diego, according to sources.

Given the nature of the Yankees, things could always change quickly. But it does appear the Yanks are done spending for the offseason.

SEATTLE MARINERS (Interest: Low)

Greg Johns of MLB.com reports the Mariners are probably not going to go after the top two starting pitchers remaining on the market.

[Mariners GM Jack] Zduriencik would like to add a No. 3 starter to his rotation, but he doesn’t sound enamored with the current asking prices of Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, the other two premier pitchers on the market. …Zduriencik didn’t mention either Santana or Jimenez by name when asked about adding a No. 3 starter, but his answer clearly indicated the club will continue pursuing lower-profile free agents.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS (Interest: Low)

Ken Rosenthal wrote yesterday he thinks the Diamondbacks are more likely to pursue a trade rather than sign either Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.

The D-Backs were willing to lose the 16th pick for free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, and their top priority remains a front-line starter. But they are more inclined to revisit a trade for Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija than pursue Santana or Jimenez.

BALTIMORE ORIOLES (Interest: Low)

Via the same Rosenthal piece:

The Orioles also want a starter ahead of a hitter, and their preference is a non-compensation free agent such as right-hander Bronson Arroyo. They could sign Arroyo and then give up a draft pick for Cruz. Some also view them as a darkhorse for Jimenez, even though it would cost them a pick.

Key here is to note the Orioles are a “darkhorse” for Jimenez, not Santana. In fact, Rosenthal never connected Santana to Baltimore. This is noteworthy because Rosenthal was not shy about throwing names around with other teams. Baltimore has also been very intense about the physicals they give to free agents this offseason, which may not be something that bodes well for Santana’s chances to end up in Baltimore.

DETROIT TIGERS (Interest: Low)

The Tigers interest in Santana stems from two tweets back before the winter meetings. Since then they have always been lumped in the “could get into it” category, but nothing serious has come out about their potential interest.

It would seem the Tigers pre-winter meetings interest was more about touching base with Santana. Consider that at the time the Tigers were investigating potential trades for Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, and they had already traded Doug Fister to the Nationals the week before. Santana may be been their fallback option should they have traded one of either Scherzer or Porcello away at the winter meetings.

Given the situation of when the rumors first surfaced with Detroit and considering their need to save money in order to re-sign Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera, it would stand to reason that the Tigers are not in very heavily on Santana.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS (Interest: Low)

It would seem there is little to gain in the Dodgers signing Santana. They certainly have the money to meet his demands, but how he fits on the roster is unclear. Should he sign he’d be competing for the fourth or fifth starter job with Dan Haren and Josh Beckett. Chad Billingsley will also be added to the mix come mid-season. Why give Santana $60 million to be the fifth starter when LA is already paying big money to Beckett or Haren to be the fifth starter?

Dodgers blog “Dodger Nation” seems to agree with this reasoning.

For the Dodgers, signing him doesn’t make much sense since they’d have to surrender their first-round draft pick to sign him and they’d be better served seeing what Beckett or Billingsley can provide.

If either player falters, the Dodgers can turn to Stephen Fife, Matt Magill or let prospect Zach Lee break into the majors. As noted earlier, the Dodgers and Arroyo have had talks since Tanaka signed with the Yankees, but it remains to be seen how active the organization will be in the starting pitcher market.

CHICAGO CUBS (Interest: Low)

Here’s your ringing endorsement for Santana to the Cubs from Chris Cotillo:

This does not sound like a team aggressively trying to sign Santana.

MIAMI MARLINS (Interest: Low)

There was nothing connecting Santana to the Marlins before the Cotillo report and there has nothing to verify that interest since. The fit doesn’t make sense either, since one of Miami’s biggest strengths is their starting rotation. One would think that if Miami were to spend significant money on a free agent it would be for a bat.

Miami’s inclusion in the Santana sweepstakes is puzzling.

COLORADO ROCKIES (Interest: “Mild”)

Back to the more relevant teams, the Rockies do have some interest in Santana, according to the Denver Post’s Troy Renck, but they are not interested in him at his current demands.

The Rockies have mild interest in Santana, but are not pursuing him at his current price. They are also are reluctant to surrender a draft pick, even a competitive balance selection around the 35th overall.

Again, this is another team not willing to pay Santana at his asking price. There seems to be plenty of teams out there that would be willing to sign Santana should his price come down. How far down it will have to come is the question.

To recap, we have eight teams with low interest and one team with “mild” interest in Santana. We can feel pretty comfortable in that estimate based on recent reports and simple logic on what each team’s needs are as of today.

The only team left not named the Royals is the Toronto Blue Jays, and they have very serious interest in signing him. However, the numbers for both Jimenez and Santana are still too high for even the pitching starved Blue Jays.

A quote from Alex Anthopoulos via Ben Nicholson-Smith:

“From a free agent standpoint with some of the remaining free agents that are out there, we have been given a price and we just don’t necessarily see the value right now. We’re going to continue to have dialogue. We’re certainly not done yet. Hopefully we’ll be able to add a little bit more, but at the same time we’re not going to force anything.”

“Some of these players that have draft pick compensation attached to them, it would not surprise me to see them go into February and even into March.”

Toronto is in no hurry, which means Jimenez and Santana are in an awkward place. Both pitchers have the same market: Toronto and the team they were with in 2013. At this stage it is a chess match between Santana’s agent and Jimenez agent to see who can play chicken longer with Toronto.

What we have is one big standoff. Nobody is willing to meet Jimenez or Santana’s demands, and only one team seems willing to spend big money for either pitcher. Toronto will end up signing one of either Jimenez or Santana and the unsigned player will end up in a very depressed market with virtually no suitors.

This is where things stand right now, anyway. It only takes one injury or one overzealous owner to change everything.

Tags: Ervin Santana Kansas City Royals

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