Johan Santana free agency: Twins still keeping an eye on lefty

Mike Stobe

The Twins have been rumored to be interested in Johan Santana since he became a free agent.

The Minnesota Twins have been keeping an eye on free agent starting pitcher Johan Santana and remain interested in signing him, reports Mike Berardino of the Twin Cities Pioneer-Press.

It would be a reunion between the two sides if Santana were to sign with the Twins. He began a stellar major-league career with Minnesota in 2000 after the team selected him in baseball's Rule 5 draft. He went on to win two Cy Young awards before being traded to the Mets prior to 2008. He has been in New York the last six years, but has recently suffered from injury.

Santana missed all of the 2011 season after having surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. He returned to the team in 2012 and made 21 starts but generally did not look like the same dominant pitcher he had been, posting a 4.85 ERA. He also missed time with a sprained ankle and inflammation in his lower back. Santana re-tore his anterior capsule before the start of the 2013 season and once again required shoulder surgery resulting in his missing all of last season.

It does not appear likely that Santana will be able to pitch again in time for the beginning of the 2014 season, and teams are looking at him more as a player who can help provide a boost around mid-season. The Twins are also operating along that line of thinking.

"He’ll be held back," general manager Terry Ryan told the Pioneer-Press. "He’s not ready to go. He won’t be ready to go probably, I’m going to say, (until) the summer at some point. Even with that being said, we do have some interest in him. Whether or not he wants to sign with us will be up to him."

Santana's first surgery kept him out for 19 months. He is not expected to miss quite so much time after his most recent procedure.

The Twins have made a big push this offseason to improve what had been the league's worst rotation in 2013. Minnesota brought in Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes as free agents and re-signed Mike Pelfrey already this year. Given the probability that Santana will not require a large financial investment, he could be an excellent low-risk, high-reward signing for the team.

More from SB Nation MLB:

Grant Brisbee: The most baffling offseason in baseball

Byron Buxton tops Baseball Prospects' Top 101 list

5 top MLB free agents still seeking a new contract

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