Pittsburgh Pirates: 3 More Starting Pitching Targets

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /
3 of 5
Pittsburgh Pirates Target Santana
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Ervin Santana

Here is a name that has not been brought up at all thus far in terms of rumors.  This is mainly because Ervin Santana has only made one appearance so far this season and that was yesterday.  Santana had surgery back in March on his middle finger of his throwing arm. However, it was not a serious surgery and he had no setbacks. He made four rehab starts and now seems 100 percent ready to go in major league action.

As mentioned above Santana has only made one start this year.  In his start last night he threw five innings, giving up three runs, and striking out five.  This is a pretty solid start for a pitcher who has missed most of the season.  Still, Santana set a higher expectation last year.  He was considered the Twins ace and actually started the Wild Card game against the New York Yankees.  Last year, Santana pitched to a 3.28 ERA across 211.1 innings.  This strong performance led him to his second All-Star selection.  Last year was also his second year in a row pitching to a sub 3.50 ERA, so there is some consistency for Santana over the last two years.

Why Santana?

Why would the Minnesota Twins look to trade their former Wild Card starter? The Twins are currently 7.5 games out of first place with a losing record of 47-53.  While 7.5 games back does not seem terribly far, the true problem lies within the AL Wild Card race.  Right now the Twins are actually even further back at 13 games out of the second spot.  So realistically speaking, the Twins only shot at making the playoffs is to catch Cleveland Indians.  This would take Minnesota to start playing winning baseball and for the Indians to really fall off the deep end.  This is not likely.

With Santana in the final year of a guaranteed contract, he is a perfect rental candidate. His 2018 salary is $13.5 million.  With essentially two thirds of the season finished, Santana’s remaining salary is $4.5 million.  This is a number that the Pittsburgh Pirates should be comfortable with paying.  Furthermore, the team would have some insurance if they wanted to hang on for him for the 2019 season.

Santana has a club option for next year that is worth $14 million.  While this is somewhat expensive, it should be doable, even for a team like the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Also, the Bucs could sweeten a package for Santana and get the Twins to put some money in the deal.  If not, he does have a buyout of $1 million. Even so, Santana is a playoff experienced starter who is coming off two really good seasons with the Twins.  He would definitely be an upgrade to the Pittsburgh Pirates rotation.