Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Ervin Santana’s Chances to Return to Kansas City Royals Increase with Time


At this point, there is only one realistic scenario for pitcher Ervin Santana to return to Kansas City. He will have to decide to sign a one-year contract after Opening Day.

The logic behind such a move lies in the rule that prevents a team from making a qualifying offer for a potential free-agent acquired after the start of the season. To make this move, Santana and his agent would have to decide that he’s better off freeing himself from draft pick compensation and seeking a long-term deal next season.

Then, and only then, does a return to Kansas City make sense.

In that case, the Royals could offer both familiar surroundings, and the chance to pitch in front of the best defensive team in the American League. Money would likely be an issue, since GM Dayton Moore is acting like he’s up against his budget. Cutting C George Kottaras to save a few hundred thousand dollars and his release of utility infielder Emilio Bonifacio before he could resign P Bruce Chen, suggest Moore has very little leeway when it comes to adding salary.

To bring back Ervin Santana, Moore would likely have to deal either Wade Davis or Luke Hochevar. Both are likely to pitch as set-up men (despite being part of the camp competition for the no. 5 slot in the rotation) and both command more than $5 million a piece in salary.

Otherwise, the Kansas City front office has made it clear they think Santana is too risky an investment if he expects a long-term deal.

Ervin Santana has been linked to the Rangers, Mariners, Orioles, and Rockies in the last ten days. Jon Heyman at CBSSports.com reported that Santana is still seeking a 4-year $50 million contract despite still being on the shelf with spring training underway. That’s quite a comedown for someone who went into the off-season with expectations of a $100 million deal. That inflated belief in his own value is what makes me think that Ervin Santana might make the risky decision to free himself from the hindrance of compensation and re-enter the market next season.

To my mind, the chances of Ervin Santana making this move increase the longer teams waffle on signing him. The closer Opening Day comes, and the more Santana’s ego gets bruised, the more likely he is to go for broke.

If such an opportunity were to arise, Dayton Moore would have to seriously consider such a deal. There’s nothing like a motivated player with something to prove in his final year before free agency.

Tags: Dayton Moore Ervin Santana Featured Kansas City Royals Popular

  • jessanders

    I think it’s more likely he’ll wait to ink a contract after the draft.

    Issue is that next years FA starting pitcher market includes a lot of big names, and would make Santana a lot less valuable.

    • unclejesse40

      Good point on the crop of next years pitchers, I had forgotten about that. If I had to guess about where he might sign prior to the season starting I would say the Rangers and Orioles. Rangers have lost a couple of guys and the Orioles would only be giving up a 3 round pick. Personally at the beginning of the year I wanted Santana back, but now with all the reports on his elbow maybe not being all that great from throwing all those sliders, I say lets go with what we got and let the young kids make a name for themselves.

  • Tyler_KC_Fan

    I personally think we need to give up on the idea that Santana is coming back. To many things need to happen and if Santana really wanted to come back he would accept the penny contract.

    Glass isn’t pretending we don’t have any more money, we don’t have anymore money. We are almost at $100M on the year, we are a small market team and we don’t have a huge deal with our TV contract. Also, tickets are cheap, if you want to grow your market you raise prices and need more than 15,000 in attendance.

    We signed Chen because he is a consistent pitcher that is only being used as a swing man whenever Ventura is ready and his arbitration situation is handled. We also signed Chen because we can’t sit around and wait for Santana. He chose not to sign the QO. He chose to turn down our reported 2 year deal we offered. He had 2 chances to sign with the team and he turned them both down.

    We aren’t hurting on SP. We may not have a legitimate #2 starter but we have at least 3-4 #3 starters with 2 that could move up to the #2 spot if they pitch to their capabilities (Ventura and Duffy) with Zimmer potentially coming up next year.

    Keep in mind, we sign Santana to a multi year deal this year it a $10M contract this year, we give up $10M that we can use to potentially extend Shields or Hosmer.

    I’m fine with Santana not coming back and I’ve accepted the fact that money was more important to him than the team. I’m ready to see what our pitchers can do this year and I think we will be more than fine with what we have. I wish Santana the best of luck with whatever team he signs with!

  • tgaletti

    Penny contract ? When did $14 million become a penny contract !!!!! Effing ridiculous !!!!