The Kansas City Royals need starting pitching help. The Los Angeles Angels had two whom they held pricey club options on for the 2013 season. Now, they have just one. Today the Angels sent 29-yeard old right-hander Ervin Santana to the Royals in exchange for left-handed pitcher Brandon Sisk and cash considerations. Santana’s club option was worth $13 million, including a $1 million buyout. Los Angeles still has a decision to make on 32-year old Dan Haren, whose option is $15.5 million and includes a $3.5 million buyout.
The Angels were understandably hesitant in wanting to pay Santana $13 million for next season. At one time it seemed like he would easily be worth that, like in 2008 when he went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, .651 OPS against, and 214 strikeouts in 219 innings. Santana made his only All-Star team that year and finished sixth in the AL Cy Young voting.
Since then Santana has been good at times and not so good others. In July 2011 he tossed a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians. He finished that season with a mediocre 11-12 record, but posted a solid ERA (3.38), WHIP (1.22), and allowed the second lowest OPS (.693) to batters of his career. Santana’s 2012 season was almost the opposite. The 5.16 ERA he finished with was his worst since 2007 and he gave up a major league leading 39 home runs in 30 starts. That was enough for the Angels to start thinking twice about whether to bring him back next year.
In return Los Angeles receives Brandon Sisk, who spent last year with Kansas City’s AAA affiliate the Omaha Storm Chasers. In 50 games the 27-year old went 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA, 8 saves, and 73 strikeouts in 67.1 innings.
Bruce Chen, Luke Hochevar, and Luis Mendoza were the only members of the Royals rotation to make 25 or more starts last season and none topped the 200 inning mark. Santana has made 30+ starts each of the last three years and has started less than 25 games just twice (2005 & 2009) in eight seasons. He’s surpassed 200 innings four times. At worst Santana will be a dependable innings eater for the Royals who, on occasion, could remind us why many thought he could be a top-of-the-rotation starter. If the change of scenery works Kansas City can sign him to a longer term deal after next season. If it doesn’t this won’t be the first move by the Royals that didn’t go according to plan.