Ervin Santana (Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports)
The Houston Astros will be acquiring at least one veteran starting pitcher this winter. That is a fact.
However, with the way the market for starting pitching is shaking out, that might not be as easy as first thought. Adding a starter via the trade market is looking more reasonable and feasible than through free agency. Especially considering what the “top” free agent pitchers are seeking contract wise.
Now I know that you have to start negotiations from somewhere, and it is unlikely that they will receive what they are currently asking for, but all it takes is one team to overpay. For that reason Luhnow might have better luck searching for talented pitcher’s with some upside that also have something to prove so they could potentially be had for a discount.
Ervin Santana is a good, serviceable, solid veteran starter. But he is not elite, is inconsistent, and comes with question marks. Sure in the right situation, he would be worth signing, but not for his initial demands.
Per Jon Heyman, the starting sticker price for Santana is five years and $112 million. That is just absurd to me. Thankfully, I am pretty sure Luhnow is smarter than this.
Now the 30-year old starter did have a good season last year (3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 161 strikeouts, 211 innings with a 9-10 record), but that doesn’t warrant the contract he is seeking. Considering in 2012, Santana had a 5.16 ERA and signing him would cost the Astros a draft choice. However in fairness to Santana, his ERA’s in 2010 and 2011 were 3.92 and 3.38 respectively. Plus it should not be taken lightly that he has made at least 30 starts in each of the last four seasons.
Santana is a good pitcher, and I wouldn’t be in objection to the Astros signing him. But not for that price. What he is not though, is a dominating pitcher. And for that cost, he better be. His control is erratic at times and Santana also is not a strikeout pitcher.
I understand the Astros are going to have to overpay on some level here, but the fact that there is a draft choice involved gives me hesitation. The right-hander is not a difference maker, and I would rather overpay in money and do not feel comfortable committing to Santana for five years.
What do you think?