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Wednesday 18th Oct 2017

So, things were getting down to the deadline and the Angels had to decide “do we pay Ervin Santana $13 M or buy out his contract for a $1M after producing an ERA above 5.00?” With Garrett Richards pushing for a rotation spot, cutting Santana was probably going to be an easy decision for the Angels.

Instead, the Royals swooped in and said “Wait! Pick his option! We’ll pay for it minus the $1 M buyout fee and for doing us this favor we’ll give you a prospect to boot out of gratitude.”  That does not seem like much of an exaggeration, if one, at all.

Rather than have to battle other teams on the free agent market for Santana’s services, a contest the Royals were likely to lose, they snapped the righty up. At first glance, the move feels like a hostage situation. Yes, one in which Santana gets a $13 M payday, but the move feels like an almost desperate act.

But then again, teams in the Royals situation, to compete with the payrolls of teams like the Angels, have to resort to desperate acts and it makes the move actually feel somewhat brilliant given a chance to reflect.

The Royals have to find some way to actually add veteran talent to their roster and even though the actual price tag for Santana is a heavy one, it was an effective means of getting other team’s leftovers at cost of a single prospect, Brandon Sisk. Sisk, for what it’s worth, is a 27-year old left-handed reliever who has spent the past two seasons in Triple-A and at best could help the Angels in middle relief as a specialist.

The Royals had apparently coveted Santana for some time and trusted their scouting reports. The 29-year old’s velocity is down a little, but metrically the numbers are all rather consistent and lining up well with the context of his career. (6.7 K/9, 3.1 BB/9) and there have been no radical changes to where batters hit the ball. In fact, Santana had produced one of the lowest BABIPs of career (.241) and is likely to regress in that department. The damage was done with the long ball and comes up glaringly in a 19% HR/FB compared to a career 10.8% mark. Given all of the data it looks like a command or perhaps a concentration issue that given past results can be resolved. The skills and talents for a sub-4.00 ERA are still there.

The Royals now feature a more competitive 2013 rotation of Santana, Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza, and Chris Volstad with Jake Odorizzi and Will Smith heading back to Triple-A.

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