Ervin Santana, the top remaining free agent starter on the market, has not lowered his asking price even with the arrival of spring training, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Santana is still seeking the four-year, $50 million contract that he was looking for earlier in the offseason, and despite the fact MLB clubs will begin playing in spring training games this week, the right-hander's asking price hasn't budged. Other top free agent starters, such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ricky Nolasco, have signed similar deals with teams this winter, and Santana feels he deserves the same type of contract.
The biggest deterrent for most teams regarding Santana is the draft pick compensation that is attached to him, something that has stalled the market for other free agents this offseason. Nelson Cruz recently agreed to a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles after struggling to find interested suitors, while Stephen Drew still remains a free agent after rejecting his qualifying offer back in November.
But Santana is refusing to budge, according to MLB executives who spoke with Heyman. The 31-year-old finished with a career-best 3.24 ERA with the Royals in 2013, striking out 161 batters in 211 innings. Despite his strong 2013, Santana has been inconsistent from season to season, a reality that has prevented teams from offering him the type of deal that Jimenez received from the Orioles. In 2012, for instance, Santana posted a 5.16 ERA and gave up a league-leading 39 home runs.
Given his propensity for giving up the long ball and the fact he excelled in 2013 while pitching his home games in Kauffman Stadium, a pitcher's park, it's fair to say many MLB clubs are wary of offering Santana a lucrative, long-term deal. Santana has been linked with a number of teams this offseason, including the Blue Jays, Rockies, Indians and Royals. Last week, however, ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that the Jays were unlikely to sign another pitcher, and that remains especially true if Santana won't budge from his initial asking price.
Jimenez was able to find himself a four-year deal despite being saddled with draft pick compensation, and Santana clearly hopes to do the same. That hasn't happened yet, however, and if he is unwilling to accept a lesser contract, it's hard to say when Santana will sign with an MLB team.