UPDATE: While recent reports have indicated that Ervin Santana is looking to find a team as soon as possible, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the free agent right-hander has not set a deadline and is prepared to wait “days” before signing with a club. The wait continues.
1:15 p.m. ET: More intrigue. Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com reports (story in Spanish) that Santana is deciding between a one-year, $14 million deal with the Blue Jays and a one-year, $13 million deal (plus incentives) with the Orioles.
12:30 p.m. ET: It’s apparently not a deal done yet. Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes hears that Santana will sign with the Blue Jays if he doesn’t receive a better offer by 5 p.m. ET. Meanwhile, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and Santana are working toward a deal, but an agreement is not in place.
12:22 p.m. ET: The mystery team has been identified. According to Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes, the Blue Jays and free agent right-hander Ervin Santana have agreed to terms on a one-year, $14 million contract.
Soldevila reported this morning that Santana was set to sign a one-year, $14 million deal with an American League team. The Blue Jays and Orioles were considered the most logical fits, but Toronto was apparently able to get the deal done.
Santana was reportedly hoping to land a $100 million contract this winter after posting a 3.24 ERA and 161/51 K/BB ratio over 211 innings last season with the Royals, but draft pick compensation and worries over his elbow greatly diminished his market. However, it looks like he’ll still get a deal close to the one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer he turned down from the Royals.
Assuming the deal gets done, Santana would join a rotation which projects to include R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and J.A. Happ. The Blue Jays have two protected first-round picks this year (one is for finishing with one of the 10 worst records last season and the other is for failing to sign their first-round pick last year), so they would only have to surrender their second-round pick in order to sign him.
Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.
For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:
“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”
Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.
Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.
Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.