The Minnesota Twins have become the latest bottom-dwelling club this offseason to make a major free agent splash, signing right-hander Ervin Santana to a four-year, $55 million deal, as reported by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan and LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Per FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the contract includes a $14 million option for a fifth year that vests if Santana throws at least 200 innings in 2018, so the deal could max out at five-years and $68 million. The deal will pay him an even $13.5 million annually over its duration, with an additional $1 million guaranteed through through the option's buyout.
For Santana, this is a much different story than last offseason, when he failed to land a coveted multi-year deal due to draft pick compensation that heavily hindered his market. Santana ultimately signed a one-year deal worth the qualifying offer's equivalent $14.1 million with the Braves in March. He was once again attached with draft pick compensation this offseason, though that didn't seem to bother the Twins, who will only have to forfeit a second rounder due to a top-10 protected first round pick.
Santana was solid, yet unspectacular, in his short stint with Atlanta. In 196.0 innings over 31 starts, he went 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA, 92 ERA+, 8.2 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9, though his excellent 3.39 FIP contributed to a 2.8 fWAR.
The 31-year-old Santana spent the first eight years of his career with the Angels before one year stints with the Royals in 2013, and Braves last season. For his career, he owns a 4.17 ERA, 99 ERA+, 7.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 22.2 WAR. His career has been heavily marked by inconsistency, especially in Anaheim, where he constantly alternated between All-Star caliber campaigns and seasons of 5.00+ ERAs.
With the Twins, Santana will likely slot in behind Phil Hughes to serve as the club's number two starter. He joins a rotation that features last winter's significant additions Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, as well as Tommy Milone and Kyle Gibson, the latter of whom posted a 2.5 fWAR in his first season in the majors last year. The Twins rotation ranked last in the league in ERA last season, and 24th in FIP, so Santana should be quite helpful in improving those tallies.
Santana's contract represents the largest deal ever given out to a free agent in Twins history, topping last winter's four-year, $49 million deal given to Nolasco.