The Phillies' starting rotation currently consists of Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett and Kyle Kendrick. However, Hamels' health status is uncertain and he may miss the beginning of the season while recovering from biceps tendinitis. The fifth spot in the rotation is still up for grabs and could be decided by a spring training battle between a host of candidates including Jonathan Pettibone, Jeff Manship and Cuban defector Miguel Gonzalez, among others. Adding Santana to the mix would help soften the blow if Hamels is forced to miss time and would shift Kendrick to the fifth starter role, increasing the team's depth at the position.
Santana has failed to find a new team for 2014 despite putting up some of the best numbers of his career last year. The right-hander spent 2013 with the Kansas City Royals and posted a career-best 3.24 ERA in 211 innings over 32 starts. However, he rejected a qualifying offer from the Royals at the beginning of the offseason, meaning that whichever team signs the 31-year-old will lose a top draft pick this summer.
Between the draft compensation, Santana's steep asking price for a new contract and his inconsistent production throughout his career, a strong market hasn't formed for his services. Several teams have shown interest throughout the offseason, but no one has pulled the trigger; the Orioles were reported to be considering Santana until they signed Ubaldo Jimenez in February. Recent reports suggest that the pitcher may or may not have fired his agent, Bean Stringfellow, as a result of his disappointing offseason. Let's run through the Ruben Amaro Jr. checklist to see if Santana is a good match for the Phillies:
- At least 30 years of age? Check.
- Impressive baseball card stats which mask questionable peripherals? Check.
- Loss of youth (draft pick) to acquire a veteran entering his decline years? Check.
- Signing an expensive win-now player when he should be rebuilding around youth? Check.
- Chance to give a player way more money than anyone else is willing to? Check.
All systems are go. Make it happen, RAJ.