Santana posted a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings for the Kansas City Royals in 2013, striking out 161 batters and allowing 51 walks. The 31-year-old has had trouble limiting home runs in years past, leading the league with 39 homers allowed in 2012. However, he has averaged 29 starts per season since breaking into the league as a member of the Los Angeles Angels in 2005.
Santana was tied to draft pick compensation after declining a qualifying offer from the Royals. However, the Blue Jays’ two first-round draft picks are protected. This means they’ll only have to surrender their second round pick (50th overall) if a deal is indeed completed. The Royals will obtain a compensatory pick following the first round of the draft.
Santana would join a Blue Jays rotation led by R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow. J.A. Happ had projected as the team’s fourth starter, but back soreness and poor spring showings have now jeopardized his rotation spot. Drew Hutchison appears to have the edge on the number five spot, with Marcus Stroman, Kyle Drabek, Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond and others also in the mix.
Alex Anthopoulos maintained contact with Santana and other free agent pitchers throughout the winter after Blue Jays starters combined for an ugly 4.81 ERA in 2013. But instead of spending on free agents early, the Blue Jays chose to wait in hopes that asking prices would drop. It appears that their hopes have materialized. Santana initially sought a contract worth more than $100 million and had still been seeking a multi-year contract until recently.
The Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners are among the other American League teams with potential interest in Santana.