Thursday morning it was announced that free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana had finally found a suitor, signing a 1-year, 14.1 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves–with starter Kris Medlen going down in spring training and will miss the entire 2014 season, now needing Tommy John Surgery–acted quickly signing the last coveted free agent pitcher to a contract.
The Toronto Blue Jays were linked to Ervin Santana as early as Sunday, with one Spanish outlet go as far as reporting that the Jays had reached a deal with Santana. However it turned out that while the Jays did offer Santana the same 1-year, 14 million dollar contract–he was still deciding upon several offers.
Ultimately what led Santana to sign with the Atlanta Braves was the desire to pitch for a more pitcher-friendly National League, compared to the high offensive in the American League East. Santana signed a 1-year deal in the N.L. in hopes that his play and numbers will parlay into a bigger desired contract in the next offseason–essentially betting on himself.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos appeared on the FAN 590’s Jeff Blair show shortly after the signing had been announced to address the news.
“From what I was told, we couldn’t compete with the N.L., the National League is where he [Santana] wanted to be, ” Anthopoulos said. “it was not money, it was not years. We couldn’t compete with that.”
“My understanding is that he wanted a 1-year deal where he could establish himself, go out and obviously have a great year. I can tell you it was definitely not the money, money was not the problem.” — “Ultimately he wanted to go to the N.L.”
Addressing the rumors that the Blue Jays were close to signing Ervin Santana, Anthopoulos didn’t confirm nor deny, but he did drops hints as to how close the Jays were to the signing.
“I know based on past–speaking in general terms–normally when things leak around the Toronto Blue Jays to an extreme degree, they’re normally done. Rarely do you see us–we’re in the rumors here or there, sometime’s when there’s a ton of fire, usually things are done. That’s just a general statement I’ll make.”
When asked if he thought Ervin Santana switching agents from Proformance to Jay Alou mid-offseason was a factor into the signing, Anthopoulos didn’t think it did.
“Jay Luu was very specific that he wanted a 1-year deal. He wanted a 1-year deal, his player wanted a 1-year deal. They reached out to us and explained to us that a 1-year deal is what they wanted to do,” Anthoupoulos said.
Anthopoulos capped off his quiet offseason by implying that this was his last effort at signing a free agent starting pitcher, but did not rule out the possibility of acquiring one via trade.
“The free agent market is what it is, there really is no other starters left that could make an impact, but the [potential of a] trade is still out there.”
The Blue Jays will now go forward with the same multiple starting pitchers competing for what now looks like 2 wide open spots in the rotation. At the beginning of Spring Training, J.A. Happ was all but locked into the 4th spot of the rotation, but has since been suffering issues with his back, and could be a potential reason as to why the Jays decided to pursue Santana this late into Spring.
The Jays’ two starting rotation spots will come down to who performs the best in Spring Training between Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, Todd Redmond, Ricky Romero, Esmil Rogers, and Marcus Stroman.