The Baltimore Orioles are in agreement on a contract with left-hander Johan Santana, according to an industry source. The deal will guarantee Santana $3MM if he makes the major league roster, and includes $5.05MM in bonuses and incentives that could bring the total value to over $8MM. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com notes that Santana will earn the full $5.05MM in incentives if he is on the major league roster for 120 days and makes 25 starts, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it includes a May 30 opt-out date that will allow Santana to become a free agent if he is not on the major league roster.
Santana, who turns 35 later this month, recently threw for the O's, Twins, Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates, Rangers and Yankees, topping out at 81 mph and displaying his usual strong changeup. He is looking to make a return to the majors after being sidelined since June 2012 with shoulder issues. He has had two shoulder surgeries in the last three seasons, most recently going under the knife to repair a torn anterior capsule.
While the top velocity of 81 mph looks concerning, it is important to note that Santana only recently started throwing off a mound and is not yet 100 percent as he recovers from surgery. He is expected to gain velocity throughout his rehab process, with the goal of returning to the big leagues in late May or early June.
If Santana's recovery is setback-free, he could provide the O's with an interesting midseason rotation option. While prior reports stated that Baltimore could look at the lefty as a reliever, the incentive language regarding games started means that the Orioles are probably looking to use Santana in the starting role that he has filled throughout his career.
Santana, a three-time Cy Young award winner, is the owner of a lifetime 139-78 record and 3.20 ERA in twelve major league seasons with the Twins and Mets. He last appeared in the majors in 2012, registering a 6-9 record and 4.85 ERA in 21 starts before his overuse in the first ever no-hitter in Mets team history led to the torn anterior capsule.