With Opening Day looming ever closer, free agent right-handed pitcher Ervin Santana is changing his demands once again, this time making it clear he's willing to settle for a one-year deal as long as it gets him into camp quickly, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
While this new stance is a far cry from the nine figure contract Santana was seeking in November, any team that is interested would have to take into account the draft pick (and perhaps more importantly, the dollar value associated with it) that it would relinquish in addition to any contract.
This is not the first time that Santana has reduced his asking price, as he dropped his demands to four years and $60 million in late January. That draft pick compensation is in place due to Santana declining the Royals' $14.1 million qualifying offer earlier this offseason, and the same issue has hampered fellow free agents Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales as well.
Santana is reportedly looking to join a strong offensive club, leading to speculation toward the AL East's Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays; however, at one year and likely a reduced price, other clubs could be in the mix. Both Baltimore and Toronto are seen as fits thanks to their need for pitching, but perhaps even more importantly, the limited impact of the lost draft pick. Baltimore has already given up its top two selections after signing Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, while Toronto has two picks early in round one, both of them protected.
Seattle is another option that has been mentioned this offseason, and while the Mariners are not as strong offensively, they have added significantly to their lineup this offseason. With phenom prospect Taijuan Walker off to a delayed start due to a sore shoulder, Hisashi Iwakuma temporarily sidelined with a strained tendon in his right hand and general manager Jack Zduriencik in a win-now situation, Santana's willingness to sign a short-term deal might make him all the more attractive.
While the draft pick has been a significant hurdle in getting Santana signed, questions regarding the stability of his elbow have persisted as well. Santana suffered a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in 2009 and while he's been one of baseball's most durable pitchers since July of that season, and received a clean bill of health from Dr. James Andrews in October 2013, teams are still concerned. Santana's willingness to take a one-year offer should mitigate some of the health concerns surrounding him, though, as the reward is likely to outweigh the risk.