Royals officials point out that Kyle Lohse projected as one of the top pitchers available in free agency last season, but teams balked at surrendering a first-round pick and signing Lohse to a large contract after the St. Louis Cardinals offered him a qualifying offer. Lohse ended up signing a three-year, $33 million contract with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Kansas City plans to tend Santana a qualifying offer, which Santana will likely reject. That could keep Santana's price down to where the Royals could afford to sign him to an extension. The Royals, however, do not want to offer the starter a contract longer than three seasons, which could also serve as a breaking point in the negotiations.
General manager Dayton Moore talked about Santana with Dutton, telling the reporter:
"We're really proud of what Ervin did for us, and we're going to be excited to see if we can get him under contract. But we've got to prepare for all different scenarios. That's what Erv is doing as well."
The Royals acquired Santana last offseason from the Los Angeles Angels following a disastrous 2012 campaign. Santana responded with one of his best seasons, posing a 3.24 ERA over 32 starts while throwing 211 innings.