Pirates Requested Medicals on Johan Santana

As I mentioned yesterday, we’re probably going to hear a lot of rumors saying “the Pittsburgh Pirates have expressed interest in (insert bounce back pitcher here)”. That’s mostly due to the indecision from A.J. Burnett, and the fact that the Pirates would need to look at other options to be prepared if Burnett retires.

Today’s bounce back pitcher of note is Johan Santana. Andrew Marchland of ESPN New York says that the Pirates were one of several teams who have shown some level of interest in the left-hander. He names eight teams: the Yankees, Mets, Twins, Rays, Orioles, Royals, Brewers, and Pirates.

Santana has missed two of the last three years with shoulder surgery, and is a big injury risk for that reason. The only year he pitched was in 2012 when he had a 4.85 ERA in 117 innings of work. Prior to 2011 he was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Santana turns 35 in March.

Marchland says that he will throw in January to showcase himself, unless a team separates itself from the pack. Right now it seems that Santana will only get incentive-laden, non-roster invitee offers, according to Marchland, which is what Santana would hope to improve upon in January.

UPDATE 12:39 PM: Travis Sawchik says that the Pirates have requested medical information on Santana, and will meet with his camp today.

I wouldn’t expect a deal based on this. Sawchik says that it would be in Santana’s best interest to throw from a mound before getting serious about a contract.

Based on this report, and the report above, I’d say that Santana will wait until January to sign. He’s got a lot of interested teams, and his value can only go up if he looks good off the mound. The Pirates, or any other team, would probably have to take on a big risk to get him to sign now, as Marchland indicated above.

  • Walker was 7th in WAR among MLB qualified 2B. Sure they could go after Cano, Carpenter, Pedroia, Kipnis, Zobrist or Kinsler, but the time and effort would probably pay off more at a position where the Bucs aren’t already in the Top 25% of all of baseball. And look at that, #2 in the NL.

    The Cardinals lost their top HR hitter each of the last 2 seasons, who is also a pretty good all-around hitter. Yes they got better in CF, especially defensively (how could they not) and at SS (again how could they not), but they are counting on Bourjos to bounce back offensively, and Peralta to not be affected by the PED suspension, plus more contribution from Adams, and at least one rookie (Wong) and maybe two (Tavares). Even if Peralta hits to his career avgs, it’s the same as Mercer did last year. Either one could fall off or surpass those numbers. Peralta has experience on his side, Mercer has youth. You can say they got better, but it isn’t a certainty.

    If there isn’t enough real talent left in free agency, then there never was anough real talent. Who did they miss out on? Morneau or Garrett Jones? Byrd at a ridiculous rate? Beltran or Granderson ditto? I don’t see how acting early would have helped anything. The FA market just didn’t match up to the Bucs needs. Nothing they can do about that, except make some trades, which they’re trying to do. Aoki is no better than Tabata, though he would fit more into a leadoff role. But that’s not worth sending any value away for.

    Yes the Nats clearly got better. Trumbo moving to the OF and the NL could be an adventure, so not sure about D-backs. Reds look to lose Choo and maybe Arroyo and haven’t done anything positive, so let’s call the Nats and Reds a wash, though I prefer to have the weakening team in the division. Or is Billy Hamilton a guarantee while Polanco isn’t?

    I agree Polanco can’t be a guarantee to contribute right off the bat. But his defense and plate discipline make it very likely that he will.

  • The Pirates are in a real tough spot if you really want to think about it. Yes we do not have a ton of holes in our roster but we have plenty of question marks. Neil Walker didn’t hit well in the playoffs and, really, for much the season was not really very good. If he wasn’t a Pittsburgh-favorite he’d be a platoon player. Jordy Mercer deserves a shot, but we don’t know what we’re going to get over a full season. You should get continued improvement from 3B and Pedro. You can’t really get or expect much more from McCutchen, maybe some extra power, but really he had a huge year and even to replicate that both offensively and defensively would be great for him. Marte might see some more continued improvement, especially if he can stay healthy. Huge question marks at RF and 1B…and everyone is way too quick to not only assume that Gregory Polanco will make it out of AAA by mid-season but actually be able to provide above replacement value in his first trip to the majors…some keep saying he’s going to be “this or that” when there simply is nothing but a lack of statistical evidence to support the claims. Our rotation looks good with Cole likely anchoring the staff and continuing to improve, Liriano hopefully continuing to put-up his excellent numbers, and Charlie Morton doing what he did last season and staying healthy. 4-5 spots are pretty iffy, honestly. Our pen is, like always, looking good except that its really hard to know what you’re going to get from relievers one year to the next, that is why NH has been so willing to trade them. The Cardinals are a better team today than when the season ended, and they went to the World Series, and with the lineup questions and potential loss of AJ Burnett I would say the Pirates and Reds are pretty equal at this point…

    • It’s not just the Cards and Reds though. The Nats have gotten significantly better and one can argue the DBacks have as well. Add in the Braves and Dodgers and now there are seven contenders for five playoff slots. I’m not feeling there’s enough being done at this point to improve the Bucs – or even feel confident in another 90 win season, let alone 94. Hopefully Neal has some magic up his sleeve he’ll spring on us all later.

      • I am not even sure that there is enough real talent left out there, especially on the free agent market, that would really significantly help the Bucs anyways. I think this was an offseason where the earlier you act the better. I think the Pirates tried and missed on a couple of the better and more “sure-thing” bounce-back players and are now facing the reality of the poor market. The talent just isn’t really there. Again, maybe through trade they could work a nice deal for a starter and/or 1B…but free agency really is not appealing at all at either position. The Pirates SHOULD have $$$ to spend, but the issue is that there isn’t a great place to spend it: not without losing a draft pick and not without still having a question-mark related to that player. Sad that this free agent class kinda sucks for the Bucs.

    • This analysis in myopic, all teams have question marks, any observer could go through the roster of the playoff teams and pull out question marks. Does Matt Carpenter come close to equally his 7.0 WAR season? How does the foot injury affect Alan Craig, especially if he moves to outfield and how does walking platoon split Matt Adams do in a full time role. How much of Peralta’s performance was PED influenced. What about Taveras, even top 10 prospects fail at 40% rate. Do Miller, Joe Kelly, and Michael Wacca all continue to outperform their FIP, xFIP numbers by an average of almost a run.

      The Reds lost there second best hitter, and I am not sure on Mark Trumbo, corner outfielder, make the Diamondbacks all that much better.

      Neil Walker has not been platooned because if you regressed his split he is projected to between .311-.319, versus LHP. The league average 2B hit .304 wOBA last year. You raise other question marks but every team has uncertainty. As for the holes the Pirates have, in a market without reasonable fixes sometimes it is the moves you do not make. The top line guy are all getting > $15 million in average yearly value, something Huntington has said he is not comfortable doing. For the Pirates it is going to be internally developed players and buy low/bounce back options.

  • Guys like him are always worth a look but shoulders just never seem to heal.

    • Odds aren’t good certainly (Mark Prior), Rich Harden, et.al), but Saberhagen had two pretty good years after his shoulder capsule surgery at roughly same age. So it’s worth a discussion. Even in a perfect situation Santana probably doesn’t have more than two years left before his shoulder craps out permanently, but Bucs only need him for one, right?

  • Too many teams in on Santana for the Pirates to score.

    Under the radar guy that I think has size, youth and upside is free agent LHP Clayton Richard. He can be excellent at times, and is hurt by the occasion blowup. I feel he could be a Searage project for a cheap signing, with a floor of a good lefty reliever.

    Also like Jerome Williams as someone that is rarely mentioned.

  • Santana certainly fits the Pirates M.O. of the past two seasons. Acquire former GREAT pitchers who have spent a couple down years on very friendly deals. Originally they were offering Liriano north of $6M/yr before he slipped in the tub last December and they took on $7M+/yr with Burnett. Unlike Hammel, Santana can at least remember what it was like to be special. If all Santana is getting offered now are NRIs, I would consider giving him a roster spot on a one year deal at $2M (plus incentives) with a club option at $6M that vests into a dual option at 150 innings pitched in 2015. Of course that’s contingent on a physical but aren’t they all?

    • I like Santana, but the problem is exactly that.

      You either take the risk early and give him a roster spot or you wait for him to throw and compete with a bunch of teams to sign him if it goes well. If thats the case, he wont be a NRI. Happy bidding (heh, we’re good at that, right?).

      If he doesn’t throw well do you even want him as a NRI?

      • I think this is correct. Santana has had a second surgery for anterior instability in his shoulder, one of these is likely death for a pitcher. he is worth a NRI, nothing more.

  • I don’t think he’s good enough currently to make our rotation. However if you buy him for 2/$8M and he becomes the 2nd LHP in the pen, allowing Wilson to be traded for stud prospects, you do it.

    • When a guy’s shoulder is being held together by bubble-gum, that’s usually an NRI situation.

      • Look at ALL THE TRADES…. and our battlinsmucksss are ……. Tim would it be possible to do a article on Nuttings ownership for the last ten years . Like % of the team he owned etc Thanks

    • challzoffdachainzzz
      December 11, 2013 11:23 am

      I dont think Johan Santana would take the offer to be a bullpen guy at this point in his career, if he isnt starting then what is the incentive to him. he’s probably pretty good money-wise (thanks Mets) I imagine he’s interested in trying to re-establishing himself after being hurt.
      Also i doubt your going to see a “stud” prospect coming back for Justin Wilson during the winter… i’d expect maybe a prospect who lost his luster a bit i.e. Jaff Decker or maybe a couple low minors b level guy. I say stick with Wilson and re evaluate at the trade deadline this coming season