The Ervin Santana saga is reaching its conclusion.
According to Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes, Santana will sign a one-year, $14 million contract with an American League team. This report comes less than 24 hours after Soldevila passed along word that a frustrated Santana fired his agent, Bean Stringfellow, and could negotiate his own contract.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported last night that Santana was looking to sign a one-year deal as soon as possible, preferably with a strong offensive team. If Soldevila’s report from this morning is accurate, we can probably peg the Orioles and Blue Jays as the favorites to be that mystery AL team. However, the Rangers and Mariners have also been mentioned as possibilities this winter. Stay tuned.
Santana, 31, posted a 3.24 ERA and 161/51 K/BB ratio over 211 innings last season. He turned down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Royals in order to test free agency. While he was hoping to cash in after his excellent season, being attached to draft pick compensation has had a major impact on his market.
UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that Santana is discussing a one-year, $14 million deal with the Orioles and Blue Jays. There’s also an unidentified National League team (but believed to be the Rockies) which is considered to be “on the fringe” of talks. A deal is expected to come together soon.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.