Ervin Santana rumors: Blue Jays have advantage, not a 'lock'

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Santana is still expected to sign soon, but the list of teams pursuing him seems to be growing.

Ervin Santana's market has gone from woefully stagnant to electrified Frankenstein in the wake of his decision to begin considering one-year deals. The Blue Jays jumped in first, offering the 31-year-old right hander a one-year, $14 million deal, and the long wait appeared to be over for Santana.

However, after the Orioles threw in with a $13 million offer that includes incentives, and the Twins made a somewhat surprising three-year bid, Santana suddenly has several teams to choose from as he attempts to secure a contract and enter camp before the season begins.

Like Santana, some of Toronto's biggest stars — Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion — are from the Dominican Republic. While that might not be the most important factor in Santana's decision, it hasn't stopped Jays' players from recruiting their countryman, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

Some of the reinvigoration in his market could be due to the fact that, on a one-year deal, Santana could net his new team a higher draft pick than the one they will be forced to forfeit if they extend him a qualifying offer next season. He would, of course, have to decline that offer, so there is some risk in that notion. However, signing Santana to a one-year deal and getting a first-round pick in return would be a pretty solid return on investment for the three teams listed in recent rumors.

Toronto and Minnesota have protected first-round picks, so they would surrender their second rounder if they landed him, and Baltimore — having already signed qualified free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz — would only need to forfeit their third round pick.

Santana might not be as quick to decline the qualifying offer next season, and it would seem to be much harder for him to duplicate his 2013 success in the hyper-competitive AL East.

Heyman also lists the Braves as a new alternative. With Kris Medlen sidelined, they could use another starting pitcher. However, Santana isn't the picture of consistency, and the Braves have already made several new commitments this offseason. Atlanta would have to give up the 26th overall pick in next June's draft if they signed him.

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