After disappointing seasons from both players, the Minnesota Twins declined 2019 team options for Ervin Santana and Logan Morrison this afternoon.
In a pair of unsurprising moves, the Minnesota Twins announced today they were not picking up team options for 2019 for neither Ervin Santana nor Logan Morrison. The team will instead pay each player $1 million, buying out their contracts and making each player a free agent. Santana’s option was worth $14 million, while Morrison’s was worth $8 million.
While it may be unlikely that either player returns to the Twins next season under a new contract, this news does not make that impossible. Both players will be able to sign as any free agent would with a team that offers them a contract- The Twins are not excluded from contract conversations, despite declining their offers.
While neither move warrants much questioning, declining Morrison’s option was more of a given than declining Santana’s option. With as poor of a season Morrison had (.186 average, .276 OBP, .368 SLG%), there is simply no reason to bring him back for another season at $8 million. The Minnesota Twins will want to find another first baseman for 2019 in addition to Tyler Austin, the only first baseman currently on the major league roster with Joe Mauer becoming a free agent, but there will be several ways they could address that need, both via free agency and from within the organization.
Though it may seem strange to decline an option on a player that was an All-Star and finished 7th in Cy Young voting in 2016, the Santana decision makes sense as well. After lingering injuries kept Santana from making his 2018 debut until late July, he only managed to make 5 appearances posting an 8.03 ERA before needing to be shut down for the season after his finger injuries resurfaced. $14 million is just too much for a pitcher turning 36 in December coming off a season like Santana’s.
If the Minnesota Twins believe he is finally past the finger injury that limited him to less than 25 innings this season, they could attempt to work out a new contract that brings Santana back at a cost closer to market value. However, this may not be necessary as the Twins already have a plethora of options to round out the rotation after a top three of Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, and Jake Odorizzi, including Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Adalberto Mejia, Michael Pineda, and Zack Littell.