There’s a funny thing happening this off-season. When it comes to starting pitching, an area that pretty much every team is always trying to improve, there are actually a lot of options.
Teams will bear that in mind as they navigate the market. For example, there is no reason for interested teams to rush to give up a draft pick and sign Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez. If they have the cash, they can go get involved in the bidding for 25-year-old Masahiro Tanaka or even pursue free agent Matt Garza.
The state of the market is also something that the players themselves will have to consider. Jimenez, for example, might be forced to take a shorter term deal that he had hoped. And when it comes to veterans with track records but a considerable amount of risk, they might have to settle for minor league opportunities and prove themselves to a new team.
That will be the case for guys like Mark Mulder and Johan Santana. Apparently Santana fully grasps that situation, as this morning Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the former Cy Young winner is close to signing a minor league deal:
Santana is getting closer to making a decision on a minor league deal with a team. There’s been some speculation about the Twins since Santana still resides in Fort Myers, Fla., where the Twins have spring training. The Red Sox, who also train in Fort Myers, passed. But a small-market team such as the Astros could also have some interest. Santana is just trying to get back pitching and prove himself again.
A return to the Twins might make a lot of sense in terms of familiarity and a shot to legitimately crack a rotation if he is able to prove he is healthy enough to contribute.