What Does Ervin Santana Mean For The Twins?

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Today, the Minnesota Twins signed right-handed pitcher, Ervin Santana, to a four-year deal worth $54 million. After playing on a one-year contract for the Atlanta Braves in 2014, the Minnesota Twins targeted the hurler despite having to surrender a second round draft pick to do so. Now with him in the fold, and a lock for the starting rotation, what does this mean for the Twins?

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Really, that’s a loaded question, but there are a few key differences that the signing of Ervin Santana immediately signifies for the Twins.

First and foremost, Santana fills a need, and does so very well. The Twins were abysmal in the pitching department last year, and he is an instant upgrade to the starting rotation. While he may not be in the same realm as Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, Santana has the ability to be a solid two or three starter. Ricky Nolasco had an unfortunate injury plagued season in 2014, but remains a very solid pitcher when at his normal self. With the expectation that he is healthy and returns to his career averages, the Twins have three quality pitchers that can be counted on to win the games on a nightly basis in Phil Hughes, Santana, and Nolasco.

Secondly, but maybe most notably, the Twins and Terry Ryan deserve a break. I criticized the front office earlier the weak based on speculation that turned out not to be the case. Instead of going after a dumpster-dive type pitcher like Kyle Kendrick, the Twins went after an impact arm and spent for it. Often heard around Twins Territory is the notion that Minnesota doesn’t spend money. The phrase just smells of lack of understanding when it comes to the game of baseball. No longer is that a fair argument, the Twins have opened up the payroll. With Nolasco, Hughes, and Santana, the Twins have spent over $130 million on pitchers in the last two years.

Baseball is not a sport where you can buy two or three impact guys and hope that in them alone will you reach the world series. Spending makes sense only if you already have the pieces in place to compete. Now with a young crop of talent on the horizon, it makes sense for the Twins to augment through free agency acquisitions. Terry Ryan has done that, and he needs to continue to do so.

Finally, with Ervin Santana into the mix, the Twins need to be aiming higher. The expectation should be that a .500 record is not only attainable in 2015, but it is a requirement. There is no reason that Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano should not debut at the major league level this season, but whether or not they do, this team has pieces in place to win.

The Twins have plenty of guys who are candidates for regression, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, and Kurt Suzuki come to mind to name a few. However, the hope would be sustained ability by at least some of them, and the younger talent (Buxton, Sano, Eddie Rosario, Josmil Pinto, and Kennys Vargas) providing some added firepower when they do.

It’s been a busy offseason for the Minnesota Twins, and as pitchers and catchers prepare to report to the first Spring Training under new manager Paul Molitor, a new mentality must enter the clubhouse as well.

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