The Diamondbacks could target free agent to be Ervin Santana this offseason.Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
The off-season is officially here and that means its time to start talking about free agents that the Diamondbacks could go after. General Manager Dave Stewart has already said that he doesn’t expect his club to make big moves this offseason, and he probably wont overpay to get big name guys on the market. He also wants to keep the young talent in the farm system intact.
With that in mind, its clear that the Dbacks biggest need going into this winter is starting pitching. While they probably wont go after guys like Max Scherzer or James Shields who will command big money, there are some middle of the road options that the Snakes could consider. One of those guys is Braves starter Ervin Santana.
Background: Santana was signed by the Anaheim Angels as an amateur free agent in 2000 out of the Dominican Republic. He searched all winter for a multi-year deal, but he ended up settling for a one year 14.1 million dollar deal with the Braves in March. His salary matched the qualifying offer amount. He pitched for the Angels for eight seasons from 2005-2012. He pitched for the Royals in 2013.
Santana owns a lifetime mark of 119-100 with a 4.17 era. Santana has been very durable throughout his career. He has made at least 30 starts in each of the past five seasons. His best season era wise came in 2013 when he had a 3.24 era. His most wins in a season came in 2010 when he went 17-10. He has posted more than 200 innings in five of his 10 seasons in the majors.
2014 Season: Santana had another nice season in 2014. In 196.0 innings pitched, he posted a 14-10 record with a 3.95 era. He gave up 16 home runs which could be a problem pitching at Chase Field. He struck out 179 while walking 63 batters.
Should the Dbacks sign him? Its clear that the Snakes are desperate for guys that can eat innings and Santana can do that. He is a workhorse, and he is really reliable. He rarely misses a start, and he has been pretty consistent throughout his career. and the Dbacks could probably get away with signing him for the qualifying offer amount of 15.3 million.
When I look at a free agent pitcher coming to Chase Field, I always look at their batted ball splits. That is why I thought Addison Reed wasn’t a great fit for the Diamondbacks because he is an extreme fly ball pitcher. He gave up 11 home runs this year and had a 4.25 era.
Santana is actually more of a ground ball pitcher. According to Fan Graphs, his ground ball percentage over his career is 40.1% compared with a 39.1% fly ball percentage. However, his GB% went up to 42.7% in 2014. The only problem I see is that he gave up 16 home runs which doesn’t bode well for pitching in a hitters park.
I think if the Diamondbacks are desperate enough for a starting pitcher that wants to eat innings then they will think about signing him. I see some potential red flags, but the team is in desperate need of reliable starting pitching, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is in Sedona Red come spring training of 2015.