The Kansas City Royals know starting pitcher Ervin Santana won’t be with the club next year. They knew Santana would reject the team’s $14.1 million one year qualifying offer. And with Santana’s agent looking for five years and $122 million for his client, the Royals won’t pay that kind of money and years for a starting pitcher, especially one who’s a number two starter at best.
Yes, Santana had a good 2013 with a 9-10 record and a 3.24 ERA over 32 starts and 211 innings pitched. He was a durable, reliable pitcher, an important part of the Royals starting rotation behind ace James Shields. But with the Anaheim Angels in 2012, Santana had a 9-13 record with a 5.16 ERA over 30 starts and 178 innings pitched. And don’t forget he gave up a league leading 39 home runs. So When the Royals traded for Santana last season for $12 million, there was a chance he would be a bust. But he wasn’t.
Santana is a good pitcher and one of the top free agent starters this offseason. He’ll be 31 this December 12, so he’s not too old. He likes living in Kansas City and liked pitching for the Royals. If the Royals offered him five years and $112 million and the Red Sox did the same, there’s a good chance he’d sign with the Royals. But Santana isn’t five years, $112 million good. Even if his agent thinks he’s as good as Zack Greinke. Seriously.
If you average the last three seasons of Santana and Greinke before they reached free agency, Santana had a 3.85 ERA and Greinke had a 3.83 ERA. Both Santana and Greinke had 95 starts with Santana pitching 617.2 innings and Greinke pitching 604 innings. Santana will be 31 and Greinke just turned 30. When you look at those stats, they appear to be similar pitchers. But Greinke has better win-loss record (41-25 to Santana’s 29-35), more strikeouts (582 to Santana’s 472), less walks (154 to Santana’s 180) and gave up less home runs (55 to Santana’s 91). Not to mention Greinke has a Cy Young award, and is a better fielder and hitter compared to Santana. So while Santana is good, he’s not Zack Greinke good.
Some team will sign Santana and he will be paid, even if it’s not $112 million. And he might get the years he wants. But if they’re smart, it won’t be the Royals. They’ll let him walk, take the draft pick and look for a starting pitcher like Santana for less years and less money.