Kansas City Royals right-hander Ervin Santana is focused on finishing the regular season strong, and is adamant about not letting things like the discussion of his looming free agency distract him, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
Santana, 30, has deflected any and all questions from Dutton attempting to get a sense of whether he wants to stay in Kansas City beyond this season:
"There’s nothing on my mind except to finish the season strong and healthy. After that, whatever happens is what’s going to happen...
"Every time when I take the mound, I’m not thinking about being a free agent. Nothing like that.
"Just go out there and do my best. That’s it."
Santana did add that he likes playing in KC a lot -- saying that it's a "good town for baseball" -- but would not go any further than that.
The Kansas City front office has been a little bit more open about what their plans are with Santana this fall. GM Dayton Moore told Dutton that the club likes him, it's just a matter of "working hard and trying to make it work."
Acquired in a trade with the Angels last October, Santana has been a nice surprise for the Royals this year. Expectations were low after a miserable showing in 2012, but now the right-hander stands to be one of the top starting pitchers on the open market this fall. He owns a career-best 3.35 earned-run average and a strikeout-to walk ratio of better than three-to-one in 191 innings this season.
If nothing else, the Royals are sure to make Santana a qualifying offer -- a one-year deal for roughly $14 million -- at the end of the year so that they can receive draft compensation.