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Mellinger: No Long-Term Deal for Santana, Please

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Thanks for everything Erv, now see you later.


Controversial (not really) local columnist Sam Mellinger took a break from the exciting post-season baseball action and the Chiefs 6-0 start to talk about Ervin Santana and the possibility of a long-term deal. While Santana was brilliant in 2013, surpassing most expectations, Mellinger put on the brakes on endorsing Santana returning in Royals blue in 2014.

Ervin Santana represents the decision that will shape this Royals offseason, and if you look closely, you see this is something like a trap door disguised as a pile of gold.

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Dayton likes shiny things.

Like Lee Judge, Sam deferred to a "baseball man" to show him the way.

A few years ago, an American League executive mentioned that the biggest mistakes teams make are usually in large and long-term commitments to free-agent pitchers....

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With the executive’s guidance, I looked at 66 current or recent contracts worth $5 million or more, analyzing their innings pitched, ERA and adjusted ERA for up to three years before and after the contract. The executive described this as a simple way to judge contracts based on the standards the pitchers set for themselves.

The results are brutal for owners and general managers: 41 pitchers regressed after signing, and only 17 improved. Eight were close enough to be judged either way. That’s a success rate of less than 30 percent. Even if you count the close calls as successes — paying in most cases a higher price with more risk for the same production — the success rate is 38 percent.

Not the most scientific study in the world, but even a more rigorous analysis would tell you the same thing. Baseball players get old. And once they get past the age of 30 - generally around the time they qualify for free agency - they start getting worse.

Couple with that the fact that even in his younger days, Ervin Santana was very inconsistent. Let's not forget that the whole reason Santana was a Royal this year was because he was so terrible in 2012 the Angels wanted to be rid of his contract. As Mellinger points out:

In three of Santana’s previous six seasons, his ERA was over 5.00. He turns 31 in December.

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Santana is a very shaky investment, and with the Royals already pretty much up against their payroll limitations, it makes little sense to sink $12-15 million per year on such an inconsistent player. Thanks for everything Erv, now see you later.