DUNEDIN, Fla. – Johan Santana will have a chance to earn a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation after the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner agreed to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training Thursday.
The 35-year-old left-hander is expected in camp Friday and the club will then get a better gauge on where exactly he’s at in his recovery from a torn anterior capsule in his pitching shoulder suffered while he was with the New York Mets.
Though Santana hasn’t pitched in the big-leagues since 2012, when he was 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA over 21 starts, the Blue Jays are right now viewing him as a starter even though he isn’t expected to be ready for opening day.
Should he be able to contribute, Santana would allow the Blue Jays to use him as their fifth starter behind Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison, while locking both Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada into the bullpen and leaving Daniel Norris to develop more at triple-A Buffalo.
Still, that Santana will be able to contribute at all is no given.
He spent last season rehabbing with the Baltimore Orioles, but didn’t get into any games, after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his shoulder a second time. He had the same procedure after the 2010 season, missing all of 2011.
Santana has also had two previous surgeries on his elbow, one to remove bone chips, one to repair his meniscus.
From 2004-2010, Santana was among the most dominant pitchers in the game, winning the Cy Young Award in 2004 and ’06 while with the Minnesota Twins, claiming three ERA titles, and posting five seasons of 200-plus innings.
On June 1, 2012, he pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history, with Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole behind the plate. Santana walked five batters and totalled 134 pitches in the contest.