Torii Hunter isn’t going to be the Minnesota Twins biggest free agent signing of the offseason after all. As the Winter Meetings draw to a close today, the Minnesota Twins have landed a much needed starting pitcher. The help comes in the form of right-handed hurler Ervin Santana.
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Ervin Santana signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves just a season ago. The Twins were in on him as well at that time, but didn’t want to give up draft pick compensation. Today, the Twins signed Santana to a four-year, $54 million deal. Santana will make $13.5 million annually for the Twins.
Last season with the Braves, Santana threw to a 3.95 ERA, 8.2 K/9 ratio, and a 1.30 WHIP. Previously, Santana pitched for the Kansas City Royals and knows the AL Central well. Over the course of his career, Santana has compiled a respectable 17-17 record, 3.85 ERA, over 325 IP, in 52 starts at AL Central stadiums. He is 2-0, 3.10 in 3 starts at Target Field.
Although Santana is no Jon Lester, he is a significant upgrade to the Minnesota Twins rotation, and should immediately slot in behind Phil Hughes as the number two starter. Santana projects very similarly to Ricky Nolasco, and they actually have relatively similar career numbers as well.
With Nolasco looking like a prime bounce-back candidate for the Twins in 2015, both Santana and Nolasco should help to be a good one-two punch behind Hughes in the rotation. Santana is a pitcher more than capable of winning you a game without significant offensive help, and he consistently battles to stay in games while not having his best stuff.
Santana struck out batters at the second best rate of his career last year, and did so employing a slider that he throws over a third of the time. Considering the lack of stress the pitch puts on your arm, a clean bill of health could also be more than likely to be expected from the Twins newest hurler.
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