Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Target Profile: Ervin Santana

As part of our Trademas in July series, we’ll take a look at potential trade targets for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Today, we look at Ervin Santana, a right-handed starting pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.

The Pirates starting rotation has had an up and down year. Francisco Liriano, Jeff Locke and Jon Niese have all struggled this season, while Gerrit Cole has endured injury issues. The Bucs have also relied on a youth movement amongst pitching prospects to help them remain in the Wild Card and Division hunts.

With the futures of Locke and Niese remaining uncertain as the August 1 Trade Deadline nears, the Pirates may be on the market to trade for a back of the rotation starter. With a nice mix of youth now settled within their rotation, the Bucs could look for an experienced veteran to solidify the number four or five spot within their starting core.

The Twins, who sit 21 games back in the American League Central division with an AL worst 32-57 record, are bound to be sellers at the trade deadline. Minnesota has worked with the Pirates at the deadline in the past with the Justin Morneau trade in 2013 being the key transaction. In this year’s case, the Twins could help the Pirates as Ervin Santana may be a player the Bucs could inquire about.

Profile and Performance

Santana is in his 12th major league season and second with the Twins. The veteran hurler spent eight seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from 2005-2012 before spending 2013 and 2014 with the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves respectively. Before the 2015 season, Santana signed a four-year deal with the Twins worth around $54 million. At the time, it was the largest contract in Twins history.

Santana has an impressive arsenal of pitches. The veteran relies primarily on his four seam fastball, which has an average velocity of 92.5 mph, and a slider that he has averaged at 83.3 mph in 2016.

Throughout his career, Santana has thrown his fastball 55.3 percent of the time, while using his slider at a 35.5 percent rate. He has also been known to throw a changeup and sinker while rarely throwing a curveball and cutter.

Here is a look at what Santana has done throughout his major league career:

 

Year Tm W L ERA G GS CG SHO IP H R ER HR BB SO FIP WHIP HR9 BB9 SO9
2005 LAA 12 8 4.65 23 23 1 1 133.2 139 73 69 17 47 99 4.43 1.392 1.1 3.2 6.7
2006 LAA 16 8 4.28 33 33 0 0 204.0 181 106 97 21 70 141 4.29 1.230 0.9 3.1 6.2
2007 LAA 7 14 5.76 28 26 0 0 150.0 174 103 96 26 58 126 5.13 1.547 1.6 3.5 7.6
2008 ★ LAA 16 7 3.49 32 32 2 1 219.0 198 89 85 23 47 214 3.30 1.119 0.9 1.9 8.8
2009 LAA 8 8 5.03 24 23 2 2 139.2 159 83 78 24 47 107 5.02 1.475 1.5 3.0 6.9
2010 LAA 17 10 3.92 33 33 4 1 222.2 221 104 97 27 73 169 4.28 1.320 1.1 3.0 6.8
2011 LAA 11 12 3.38 33 33 4 1 228.2 207 95 86 26 72 178 4.00 1.220 1.0 2.8 7.0
2012 LAA 9 13 5.16 30 30 1 1 178.0 165 109 102 39 61 133 5.63 1.270 2.0 3.1 6.7
2013 KCR 9 10 3.24 32 32 0 0 211.0 190 85 76 26 51 161 3.93 1.142 1.1 2.2 6.9
2014 ATL 14 10 3.95 31 31 0 0 196.0 193 90 86 16 63 179 3.39 1.306 0.7 2.9 8.2
2015 MIN 7 5 4.00 17 17 0 0 108.0 104 50 48 12 36 82 4.17 1.296 1.0 3.0 6.8
2016 MIN 3 8 4.12 17 17 1 1 98.1 100 50 45 11 28 73 3.99 1.302 1.0 2.6 6.7
12 Yrs 129 113 4.16 333 330 15 8 2089.0 2031 1037 965 268 653 1662 4.25 1.285 1.2 2.8 7.2
162 Game Avg. 13 12 4.16 34 34 2 1 214 208 106 99 27 67 170 4.25 1.285 1.2 2.8 7.2
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/17/2016.

 

The case for Santana

  • When it comes to making a case for the Pirates acquiring Santana, the first thing that comes to mind is his ability to eat innings and help save the bullpen. In his 17 starts this season, Santana has gone five plus innings in all but three of them and has gone seven plus innings on five occasions. With the young starters making an impact at the big league level, the Pirates have been cautious when it comes to letting them pitch deep into ball games. This has caused the pen to pitch a ton of innings, but Santana could help that cause mightily.
  • Despite some struggles in the first half, there are reasons to think Santana can turn it around in the second half of the season. The veteran holds a 61-68 record with a 4.40 ERA in the first half throughout his career while holding a 68-45 record with a 3.88 ERA in the second half.
  • Santana has been good as of late, going 1-1 with a 2.18 ERA in three starts including a complete game two hit shutout against the Oakland Athletics on July 6
  • This season, Santana’s strikeout percentage is at 17.9, which is what he had in 2015. He has also lowered his walk percentage from 7.9 last season to 6.9 this season. That 6.9 walk percentage is the lowest it has been for Santana since 2013.

The Case against Santana

  • Santana is the second highest paid player on the Twins behind Joe Mauer and still has a few years left on his contract. This means that he may not come cheap and that the Pirates may have to give up more than they want to for an average, aging right hander.
  • This season, the Pirates have had issues giving up the long ball. Santana may not help this cause as he has allowed  268 long balls in his 12 year MLB career. In fact, in 2012 with the Angels, Santana allowed 39 home runs, which was the most in baseball. The rate in which he has given up home runs has decreased in the past few years. However, it could still be a concern as he has allowed 11 long balls this season.
  • Santana was struck in the wrist by a line drive during his start on Friday and is listed as day-to-day. This may not be a concerning injury, but it could hurt his trade value.

What it might take

Like I said in the case against Santana, he has a long term deal that makes him a highly paid pitcher. This means that he wouldn’t just be a rental and that there could be a decent return request in exchange for his services.

The Twins have a very young outfield at the major league level with guys like Byron Buxton, Danny Santana, Eddie Rosario and Miguel Sano. However, they have an infield that could use a bit of a youth movement. Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Nunez are all age 29 or older and by 2019, they could all be moving on from the organization.

The Twins do have Nick Gordon and Jorge Polanco, two young shortstops, within their system, but seven of their top ten prospects are pitchers. The Pirates have an abundance of young infield prospects, but most of them, including Kevin Newman and Ke’Bryan Hayes, may be untouchable in a deal like this. Young infielders like Kevin Kramer and Jordan Luplow could have some value and throwing in an outfield prospect such as Barrett Barnes might also do the trick.

Conclusions

Despite the starting pitching market being somewhat weak, there may be more suitable choices than Santana. A guy like Nathan Eovaldi seems like an intriguing option, however, if the two teams could agree on the right deal, Santana may benefit by playing on a winning team primed for a run towards a postseason appearance.

Follow along with our Trademas In July coverage with these other trade target profiles:

[irp posts=”7637″ name=”Pittsburgh Pirates trade target profile: Nathan Eovaldi”] [irp posts=”7654″ name=”Pittsburgh Pirates should steer clear of Chris Archer“] [irp posts=”7465” name=”The Pittsburgh Pirates should target RP Marc Rzepczynski“]

Featured Image Credit – Flickr Creative Commons