Ervin Santana is officially the loneliest pitcher in baseball.
Several teams have been linked to Santana this offseason, but his market has diminished significantly since the winter began.
Since Ubaldo Jimenez, a pitcher many compared to Santana, signed a deal with Baltimore for half that amount, a nine-figure deal seems unlikely, to say the least. However, there still a few teams that could benefit from having him in their rotations, and he doesn't have much competition left on the open market.
The hesitation to sign Santana is directly related to the draft compensation he became attached to when he declined the Royals $14.1 million qualifying offer in November. In retrospect, he might regret that decision, but the lure and security of a multiyear appears to have been his motivation in doing so.
An injury in spring training could open up new possibilities, but for now, there only a few teams that have been loosely connected to him in rumors.
A return to the Royals is still a possibility.
Kansas City was a good fit for Santana last year, as he bounced back from one of the worst campaigns in his career with the 2012 Angels. In 2013, he posted a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings with a 1.14 WHIP and his lowest walk rate since 2008. Kauffman Stadium tends to limit home runs to some extent, and that appears to have been a large part of what allowed Santana to flourish there. However, he also made some adjustments to his approach that resulted in an improved ground ball rate thanks to the further integration of his sinker and a more assorted mix of pitches overall.
Royals general manager Dayton Moore has said his team is still considering a reunion with Santana, but that he doesn't see a fit in the team's budget for the kind of contract the nine-year veteran desires.
Seattle is dealing with some bumps and bruises to their rotation in the early going, leading to some speculation that the club will look to add another pitcher to the mix. The Mariners will rely on Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma on the front end of their rotation, but a recent finger injury is currently limiting Iwakuma, though he isn't expected to miss any regular season starts at this point. Taijuan Walker is also likely to log significant innings this season, but Seattle might not be willing to push him or James Paxton to make 30 or more starts.
The addition of Santana would certainly give the team more flexibility in terms of bringing along their young arms slowly. On the other hand, the loss of another draft pick and the additional payroll commitment Santana would require might be enough to keep him out of Seattle's plans.
The Yankees have added about $500 million in new commitments this offseason, but then again, they're the Yankees.
New York's rotation is set to feature a mix of Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps, but the sheer presence of multiple candidates wasn't enough to stop them from adding two new -- and expensive -- players to their group of outfielders this offseason, so Santana could still be an option for general manager Brian Cashman.
However, Cashman has said his team is done adding major free agents. Things can change, but New York has several internal options to fill the back-end of their rotation, so adding another multiyear deal to the equation might not be in their plans at the moment.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman listed the Indians among the teams considering Santana in an update on the pitcher's market last week. Heyman noted that the Indians were more likely to attempt to retain Ubaldo Jimenez, but since he signed with Baltimore, the team could reconsider Santana.
Cleveland's rotation was a strength last season on their way to a second-place finish in the AL Central, but with the departures of Scott Kazmir and Jimenez, the Indians are poised to feature a much younger group in 2014. Justin Masterson headlines their staff, with Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister holding down the rest of their top four spots. Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin could compete for the final spot this spring.
Santana would give the Indians another solid rotation option, but the club might not be willing to part with their first-round draft pick in order to sign him to a lucrative, multiyear deal.