Minnesota Twins: Assessing the future of Ervin Santana

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Ervin Santana
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Ervin Santana /

The Minnesota Twins have a couple of pitchers currently enjoying breakout performances. Unfortunately, the supposed ace of this pitching staff has yet to throw a pitch in MLB.

Ervin Santana has been sidelined for the Minnesota Twins since early February. José Berríos and Kyle Gibson have emerged as legitimate rotation pieces during this season. However, Santana’s absence at the top of the rotation has been felt by the entire pitching staff.

The Twins front office did their best to prepare for this scenario by signing Lance Lynn and trading for Jake Odorizzi. Although both Lynn and Odorizzi have both been solid, Minnesota has had trouble locking down the fifth starter spot.

Had Santana made his return on schedule, it’s possible Minnesota wouldn’t be in the position they currently find themselves. Fernando Romero had an eye-catching debut run early for Minnesota contributing to the strong performance from the Twins rotation. However, this team was forced to depend on Romero having success instead of having Santana every fifth day.

Unfortunately, Minnesota has struggled mightily offensively and has had to lean on this pitching staff. Santana has been a true ace during recent seasons and the Twins have missed his presence all season. The question at this point remains simple for Santana…

What type of impact can he have on the 2018 season?

Santana has always been a workhorse during his 13-year career. He has 149 wins with a 4.02 earned run average while starting at least 30 games nine times during his career. However, at this point of the season, Santana will be lucky to make 15 starts for the Twins.

The 35-year-old has experienced nothing but setbacks while working his way back during this season. He has been scratched from scheduled rehab appearances and has even struggled to touch 90 MPH at times.

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Although Santana has struggled to regain his form during rehab, there is still a lot of of time for him to make his mark on the 2018 season. He did manage to pitch four innings in the Minors Thursday night allowing only two earned runs. Even if Santana has reduced velocity, as long as his pitches continue to have the same movement he’ll be okay.

However, for Santana to impact this season he will need to return soon. His best chance at having a true impact will be with a different team. First, he will need to return to MLB action and show the league he can still contribute.

Does Santana have value in a trade?

Santana has until the end of August to show the league what he can do. He has the type of experience, and contract, that contending teams seem to trade for during this time of year. The Minnesota Twins will be looking to unload every logical asset and Santana will be near the top of that list.

Expect the Twins to be active on the trade market during the next two months. Although this season has gone WAY off course, the future is still very bright in the Twin Cities. The rotation has plenty of options and has no need for Santana moving forward.

First, Santana has to show he can handle MLB hitters again. He has the type of salary that can pass through waivers to enable a trade during August. Santana also has the experience that a contending team could take a chance on if he can show any glimpse of being his former self.

Teams like the Yankees or the Dodgers are always on the lookout for pitchers the caliber of Santana. If Santana can put together a handful of solid starts during the next two months, Minnesota can add to the depth of an already strong Minor League system by trading him.

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His impact on the 2018 season almost definitely lies outside of the Twin Cities. Minnesota is fading fast in the AL Central race and the time is approaching to look ahead to the future.