The New York Yankees have reportedly expressed interest in Johan Santana pitching for them in the 2014 season. The Yankees need pitching in a bad way, but really? Johan Santana? Is he really an option? There is no way the Yankees should sign Santana to pitch for them in 2014 no matter how desperate they get to sign another starting pitcher.
This better be no more than the Yankees’ front office doing their jobs by being diligent and looking at every starting pitcher who is on the free agent market. They do need at least one, if not two more starting pitchers to fill out their starting rotation, but Santana shouldn’t be one of those players they sign to pitch for them next year. The ideal scenario for the Yankees would be to sign one more free agent pitcher, preferably Masahiro Tanaka if he gets posted, and then let Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren compete for the fifth spot with Pineda likely winning the job. Signing a 34-year-old pitcher with serious question marks concerning his health should not be part of the plan to fill one of those two available spots in the rotation.
Santana is a shell of his former self. The two-time Cy Young Award winner, who once upon a time was one of the best pitchers in the game, has not thrown a single inning in two of the past three seasons. In 2012, the last time he pitched in the major leagues as a member of the New York Mets, Santana had an ugly 4.85 ERA in 21 starts before being shut down for the season. He did throw the first no-hitter in the history of the Mets, but that is a distant memory when evaluating if Santana can contribute to the Yankees. He does not have that kind of stuff anymore. In fact, when you continue to look at the last few years of Santana’s career, there is not much to like. It has been three years since the last time Santana has posed an ERA under three and six years since he has started at least 30 games. Going all the way back to his first year with the Mets back in 2008, Santana has only averaged 143 innings a season with under eight strikeouts per nine innings.
None of those numbers, along with the shoulder surgeries, should convince the Yankees that they should sign Santana to a contract. The only way the Yankees should even consider signing Santana is if he is willing to accept a contract filled with incentives and there being no guarantee of him making the team. Even if Santana would agree to those terms, considering the Yankees are searching for a pitcher capable of throwing 200 innings who is currently not on their roster, Santana is not their guy.