Somebody just SIGN me already!!!
Welp. We really are back to square one this off-season, aren’t we? Sure, Tanaka and Garza are off the market, as are a whole hell of a lot of other names, but in a lot of ways it might as well be November, because that seems to be about where the rumour mill is at. And maybe the pitching market, too, if the latest on Ervin Santana from Chris Cotillo at MLB Daily Dish is to be believed.
According to Cotillo’s source, Santana is now drawing interest from several teams, the Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, Yankees, and Dodgers chief among them, with the Cubs and Marlins on the periphery, and the Diamondbacks, Royals, Tigers, and Jays still expected to become involved in a process that’s reportedly “still early.”
Of course, it’s not terribly difficult to see whose interest it would be in to suggest that some kind of bidding war may be heating up. And if that’s the case, there seems to be one club in particular being nudged to make a deal — albeit from a different source, according to how Cotillo’s piece reads:
One source notes that the Blue Jays are the “most obvious fit” for Santana, and that “the fans in Toronto will be very disappointed” if the team fails to sign either Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. There is a belief that the Jays will try to wait for Santana’s price to come down before making a serious pursuit, but a source cautions that other teams are “going to leave the Jays wishing they had pulled the trigger”.
Cue fans screaming for the Jays to just do it already before some other team comes in and scoops him up, which… I kind of totally don’t get.
Other teams having more interest as the price gets lower is perfectly natural. Maybe there are clubs willing to pay more than they’re leading on, much like we think/hope the Jays are, and waiting for Santana to have a firm offer he’s willing to accept before bidding the price back up some. But they’re going to be lurking in the reeds whether that offer comes at $60-million, as was reportedly the asking price a week ago, or if it happens at $35-million. The fact is, if the Jays are willing to pay more for him than anybody else, they’re willing to pay more for him than anybody else. If they’re not, they’re not.
That’s especially true because their “advantage” from having a protected first round pick maybe isn’t quite as big as it seem. Of the teams listed above, the Yankees have already lost three draft picks (though they’ve received others for their own departing free agents) and given up $483-million in total contract dollars this winter, making it seem reasonably plausible that they’re at the end of their rope… but they’re the Yankees, and they’re long past the luxury tax threshold, so I guess you never know. The Mariners have a protected first rounder, but have lost their second round pick spending heavily on Robinson Cano, which may have sapped their wherewithal for more spending and another blow to their pool of draft money, but maybe not. Like the Jays, the Rockies have a protected pick, as do the Cubs and Marlins — though Cotillo’s report suggests that even the loss of the second rounder may be too much to for Chicago — and the Royals, of course, wouldn’t need to surrender a pick to re-sign their own player.
Should that stop the Jays from be interested? Of course not. I’ve written about the differences between Santana and Jimenez before (just scroll past the Tanaka wishcasting), and came to understand why the Jays might prefer Ervin to Ubaldo, and that was even before I’d bothered to check out a piece from around the time of the trade deadline by Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs. Giving us another nugget to consider, he explains:
Last season, Santana’s fastball declined, and while he never went on the disabled list, he acknowledged he experienced some elbow discomfort. It’s not the first time he had some issues with his elbow, but he’s bounced back in 2013 and right now he’s pitching strong and easy. Santana’s pitching with familiar arm strength, and that seems to be driving some truly promising results.
The worry about Santana, in addition to the home runs — which are a problem at the best of times, though perhaps now mitigated by the use of the sinker I wrote about in the piece linked above — is precisely that atrocious 2012 season, and Sullivan certainly isn’t wrong about the velocity trouble, or about the bounceback:
It’s hardly proof that we no longer have to worry about the problems that haunted Santana that season, but it has to make you feel at least a little bit better about it, doesn’t it?
Is it reason enough to be whining that the Jays should just give him the $60-million already without seeing how low his price might really go? Obviously not. But if a thing like that goes as far as looks possible towards helping to explain away the one major blip Santana has on his recent track record, he might be better than some are giving him credit for. And that might make it harder for Alex to eventually explain why he didn’t go harder after him. But, for fuck sakes, let’s hope not it doesn’t get to that.
Who knows, though.
No, literally who knows? Not even Ken Rosenthal seems to have a read on where the Jays are at, writing this in the latest for Fox Sports:
Quiet for much of the offseason, the Jays remain a leading candidate to sign Santana or Jimenez assuming that they A) like the pitchers and B) view the price as right.
So… there’s that.