The 1948 Boston Braves famously had a starting rotation of “Spahn and Sain, and then pray for rain.” The 2014 Texas Rangers rotation is just as top-heavy, with Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez on the front end followed by an awful lot of question marks. Bringing in Ervin Santana, however, would not solve anything.
Darvish has clearly established himself as one of the better pitchers in the game. He has looked good so far, and is noticeably thinner as well. Perez is very young, but very talented. He seems ready to step up to the front of the rotation, having added a cut-fastball to his repertoire in the offseason. Harrison will probably miss his first scheduled start, but his latest surge of back pain should not send him to the disabled list. Harrison may have found a future as an infomercial pitch-man as well: the team said that Harrison’s back pain disappeared when he changed mattresses.
Santana is, by far, the top free-agent currently available. Last year, playing for a mediocre Kansas City Royals squad, he posted a 3.24 ERA and career-best 1.14 WHIP. Moreover, in his 10 losses, the Royals scored an average of just 2.5 runs per game. But he has refused to back off of his four-year, $50 million asking price. That’s an awful lot of money for a fourth starter (fifth once Derek Holland comes back). Four years is also an awful long time for a 32-year-old whose lone All-Star season was way back in 2008 and hasn’t had a record north of .500 since 2010.
The thought of Tanner Scheppers or Robbie Ross getting the ball every fifth day is enough to cause an ulcer, but as long as the pitcher can keep the game close, the improved offense should be able to carry the team. Santana is simply not worth the price.