May 23, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Ervin Santana (54) delivers a pitch in the first inning of the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Phillies Potential Offseason Target: Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana

Position: Starting pitcher

2013 team: Kansas City Royals

Key 2013 stats: 9-10 W-L, 3.24 ERA, 161 K, 51 BB

Santana wasn’t very highly regarded entering the 2013 season.  He was coming off a 2012 campaign that saw him record a 5.16 ERA and -1.3 fWAR.  The Angels basically traded him to Kansas City just to be rid of his salary.  It turned out to be an excellent trade for the Royals, as Santana had a strong season.  He improved his already precise control, and limited the number of home runs he allowed, resulting in an ERA that was almost two entire runs better than the year before.

Santana is the type of pitcher often known as an “inning eater.”  He’s durable, doesn’t walk many batters, and will usually pitch into the sixth or seventh inning.  On the other hand, he’s not going to give you too many dominating outings.

Why He Might be a Good Fit

Considering the uncertainty surrounding the Phillies bullpen, having a guy who can be counted on to pitch deep into games would certainly be useful.  The Phillies also have several question marks at the back of the rotation, and it might be nice to add another solid veteran, even if he isn’t spectacular.

Why He Might Not be a Good Fit

Santana is a free agent, and that probably means that some general manager is going to overpay him.  Do the Phillies want to tie up a large chunk of salary by signing a guy who would be nothing more than an average #3 starter?

Over his career, Santana has never been a high strikeout pitcher, and has had some problems with surrendering home runs.  Those traits don’t make him an ideal fit for Citizens Bank Park.

My Take

The starting pitching market seems to be on hold until the Masahiro Tanaka situation plays out.  Once Tanaka signs, I expect there to be a run on the remaining available guys like Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Matt Garza.  With so many similar options available, it is possible that their prices might drop a bit.  If so, it might behoove the Phillies to take a look, but I certainly wouldn’t recommend anything longer than a four-year deal for Santana.

It doesn’t seem like the Phillies feel a pressing need to add another starter.  Considering the high salaries that this year’s mediocre crop of starters is likely to receive, I don’t think it’s the worst idea to sit this round out. Signing a guy like Santana likely wouldn’t make a huge difference in 2014, so why not wait until next year when some higher quality pitchers may be available.

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