Yankees Free Agent Target: Ervin Santana
By Wayne Cavadi
Welcome to the offseason, Yankees’ fans. The free agency market is now officially open and the New York Yankees’ certainly have some decisions to make. One spot the club may be looking to improve upon is in the starting pitching department. Brandon McCarthy is currently a free agent and while many fans would like to see him back, there is still uncertainty whether the Yanks make a play on him. CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are tremendous questions marks heading into 2015. There is little doubt that the Yankees need pitching depth.
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Recent rumors have said that the Yankees will not make a play on the Big Three pitching free agents (Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields). So who is out there that can help out the Bombers’ rotation? There is one guy on the free agent market that I was hoping they would sign last season, but he slipped through their fingers.
He’s not flashy, nor is he one of the overwhelmingly sexy pieces on the market, but Ervin Santana is one thing the Yankees rotation has not been lately: consistent. Santana has made over thirty starts for five years in a row. He has thrown 1036 innings over that time, which averages out to just over 200 innings a season. That is a typical amount of innings for a starting pitcher, so the worries of over usage or a tired arm from excessive innings from his early career are of little concern.
When looking at Santana, it’s best to throw wins out of the equation. He does have a career winning record at 119-100, but some of his past few seasons have ended on the wrong side of .500. What is important to look at is his ERA. Four of his past five seasons saw Santana post an ERA under four. He has struggled with the long ball in the past, but the amount of home runs he’s let up each season has dropped the past two years. He has a nice career strikeout per nine ratio (7.2) over his career and a manageable 1.28 WHIP over a solid ten year career.
Last season, Santana was asked to step up and become the ace of the Atlanta Braves’ rotation. He answered the call, going 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA and the second most strikeouts of his career. Santana won’t be asked to be our ace and should join the Yankees’ rotation as the third starter. If Sabathia is healthy and they resign McCarthy, suddenly Santana is the team’s fourth starter. If the price is right, that could be the steal of the free agency season.