The Royals announced they have signed right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana to a minor league deal. The 38-year old right-hander pitched for the club back in 2013, winning nine games with a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings, worth 3.2 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.
Per source, Ervin Santana deal would pay him $1.5 million in base salary with $1.75 million performance bonuses if he is in the majors for the #Royals.— Lynn Worthy (@LWorthySports) December 29, 2020
Santana last pitched in the big leagues in 2019, making three starts for the White Sox with a 9.45 ERA. He was an All-Star as recently as 2017, when he won 16 games for the Twins with a 3.28 ERA, earning Cy Young votes. Santana has spent parts of 15 seasons in the big leagues, winning 149 games with a 4.09 ERA with 26.6 WAR for the Angels, Royals, Braves, Twins, and White Sox.
The Royals originally acquired Santana from the Angels in a trade before the 2013 season for minor league pitcher Brandon Sisk. It was seen as a salary dump for the Angels for an inconsistent pitcher coming off a lousy season. But Santana revived his career in Kansas City and put up a very solid season, and with new staff ace James Shields, the Royals fielded one of their best pitching rotations in decades.
Santana left the Royals seeking a $100 million contract, but after rejecting the Royals’ Qualfiying Offer, he found a market unwilling to come close to his demands. He ultimately signed late in March with the Braves on a one-year deal, winning 14 games for them before finally getting his multi-year deal with the Twins, although a four-year, $55 million that was far short of what he was asking for before. He was also suspended for 80 games in 2015 for testing positive for stanozolol.
Santana is probably a long shot to make the club at his age, but the Royals could take a look at him and see if he has anything left in the tank. Perhaps he could transition to a relief role at this point, or provide some mentorship to younger pitchers. If nothing else, he was at least a fun player who was always reminded fans to “smell the baseball” and was obsessed with dodgeball.