Angels, Royals Trade Review: A Closer Look at the Ervin Santana Deal

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The 2012-13 offseason is less than a week old, and the Royals have already made more than just a ripple in the water.

It has been well-known around baseball that the Angels have been looking to dump salary this offseason in order to be able to re-sign Zack Greinke. They had two starting pitchers with high salaries that they were more than willing to part ways with in order to do so: Ervin Santana ($13 million option) and Dan Haren ($15.5 million option).

No sooner than word got out that Santana was available, the Royals swooped in and made their move to acquire him.

For next to nothing.

What the Royals get:

RHP Ervin Santana: age 29 (turns 30 in December), 8 years, 96-80, 4.33 ERA, 6.2 IP/start, 7.1 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.300 WHIP, 10.6 WAR, 2008 All-Star, Cy Young candidate in 2008, no-hitter in 2011.

Ervin Santana is a good, not great, pitcher. 2012 was a rough season for him, going 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA while giving up a league leading 39 homeruns. His velocity (~91 mph) was down a tick from his normal standards, but his K and BB rate stayed fairly consistent (6.7 K/9, 3 BB/9) to his career numbers.

Santana did finish 2012 strong- going 5-2 with a 3.91 ERA in his last 10 starts.

The homerun rate, although very high, isn’t really alarming. Usually when a pitcher’s homerun rate spikes, it’s likely due to a little bad luck where flyballs turn themselves in to longballs. Kauffman Stadium is generally regarded as a pitcher’s park, so Santana’s flyball:homerun ratio should revert back to normal. An overwhelming positive about the acquisition is that Santana has a track record of success pitching in the American League.

Santana has the ability to be a front-of-the-rotation starter and has shown that he can eat up innings for this pitching staff (600+ innings combined in the last 3 seasons).

Prior to executing the trade, the Angels picked up Santana’s $13 million option, which now belongs to the Royals. To lighten the load, the Angels also sent $1 million to Kansas City, lessening Santana’s payroll hit to $12 million for 2013.

What the Royals gave:

Cash and LHP Brandon Sisk: age 27, zero big league service time. 2012: Triple-A Omaha (50 games, 67.1 IP, 3-2, 8 saves, 2.54 ERA, 1.351 WHIP, 73 K, 32 BB)

At 27, Brandon Sisk is basically a non-prospect. It was likely that the Royals were going to leave him unprotected for December’s Rule IV draft – meaning that he was more than expendable. A reliever, Sisk will likely go into Spring Training next season as a strong bullpen candidate for the Halos.

The Royals are the clear winners of this trade, regardless of how Santana’s 2013 season goes. They got a legitimate starting pitcher for practically nothing.

This was a great start to the offseason, but more has to be done. Acquiring Santana was a good move, but it can’t be the biggest move Dayton Moore makes this offseason.

“We’re not done. We’re going to try to continue to upgrade our rotation through trades that make sense, continue to work internally to evaluate our young pitchers, perhaps one or two of our guys in the bullpen and we’re certainly going to explore free agency.” – Dayton Moore

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