Could a veteran right-handed starting pitcher be a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates?
As the offseason carries on the Pittsburgh Pirates continue to look for a fifth starting pitcher. The team has mentioned potentially using an opener this season, but, ultimately, their best option would be to add a fifth starting pitcher.
Jordan Lyles could be the team’s fifth starting pitcher. And Neal Huntington has said Lyles will compete for the fifth. However, Lyles is better as a reliever than a starter and would be better served pitching in middle relief.
A potential free agent target for the Pirates could be veteran righty Ervin Santana. The 36-year-old Santana is coming off an injury riddled season for the Minnesota Twins in 2018, but could still have value for a team like the Pirates in 2019.
Due to a finger issue, Santana made just 12 starts last season. Of these 12 starts, only five came at the MLB level. In these five starts he owned an 8.03 ERA, 7.94 FIP, and he averaged 3.28 HR/9 in 24 2/3 innings pitched. But, again, he was dealing with a finger issue that led to his struggles.
When healthy, Santana was arguably Minnesota’s best starting pitcher in 2017. He posted a 3.28 ERA, 4.46 FIP, and a 2.9 fWAR in 211 1/3 innings pitched across 33 starts. This included starting in the American League Wild Card Game for the Twins.
During his now 14-year MLB career Santana has been a stalwart. Santana has pitched for the Angels, Royals, Braves, and Twins having tossed 2,408 innings in 381 starts. Six times in his career Santana has topped 200 innings pitched, he’s also pitched at least 178 innings in three other seasons.
Adding Santana could bring a veteran presence and leadership to the Pirate rotation that is no longer there with Ivan Nova having been traded. Furthermore, Santana could log a lot of innings for the team in 2019 which would help to make a strong Pirate bullpen even more of a weapon.