Ervin Santana: if not the Seattle Mariners, then who?

Even with the news that star Japanese free agent Masahiro Tanaka might not be allowed to join Major League Baseball, the market for top-end starting pitchers is hard to figure. Take Ervin Santana, most recently of the Kansas City Royals, as an example. At one point, Santana was rumored to want a five year, $100 million contract. With the absurdity of that number aside, we still have to ask this question:

What teams are willing to shell out big free agent money for starting pitchers like Santana?

It’s not as if the markets have been bustling for the other starters who think they are in line for a big payday: Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza come to mind. Jimenez, in particular, faces the same dilemma as Santana because it will cost his new team a draft pick to sign him.

Back to Santana. Reports continue to link him to the suddenly free-wheeling Seattle Mariners.

Given their desperation to make a splash this off-season and make themselves matter right away in 2014, this makes sense (even if it does have a distinct Miami Marlins circa 2012 feel to it). But with no other teams in that situation, this becomes an interesting question for Santana. If not the Mariners, then who?