News broke last night of the New York Yankees being among the teams interested in free agent pitcher Ervin Santana. Since Masahiro Tanaka signed, the logjam of free agent starting pitchers has started to break up with Matt Garza (sigh) signing with Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend. Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez figure to be next to sign, so why are the Yankees interested in Santana?
First of all, the Yankees have bigger holes to fill with that money than starting pitching. With the addition of Tanaka, they now have four spots locked in and four guys who can compete for the fifth spot. Secondly, there are cheaper options available that they could add like Jason Hammel, who I’ve spoken about earlier in the off-season. Santana would probably cost within the range of Garza, Ricky Nolasco and Edwin Jackson at 4-years and $50 some odd million. He also would cost even more because of the luxury tax so that $50 mil. would be close to $100 million.
He’s also a fly ball pitcher, which doesn’t work at the stadium (see Phil Hughes). Santana in the last four years has had fly ball rates of 42.7. 37.9, 37.3 and 32.9 percent. Granted it’s declined, however, a big reason for an improvement last year was his walk rate dropping from 8% to 5.9%. If that rate increases and his flyball rate does as well, look out.
The would be better off taking a portion of that money and giving it to Stephen Drew, or saving it for spending in the future. Adding Santana when there are other holes to fill just isn’t a good use of funds.