Prepare to remain baffled. An MLB media executive reports the Tigers and Santana are still an item.
The Arizona Diamondbacks being interested in Santana is no surprise. They have been on the prowl for free agent starting pitching since the rumor season started, including being a player for the top arm on the market, Masahiro Tanaka. Santana would be a consolation prize for Arizona. But the Tigers' interest seems odd, at best.
Santana isn't going to come cheap. Going into free agency, the 32-year-old right-hander was thought to be the one of the best starting pitchers available on the open market, behind only Tanaka. He has priced himself accordingly. Back in November, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported Santana was looking for a deal worth over $100 million over five years.
Outrageous? Sure. Unrealistic? Maybe. But maybe not. The free agent market has been ridiculous, with expensive, long-term deals being thrown about like so much confetti. He won't get nine-figures, but odds are good Santana ends up signing a contract similar to the five-year, $82.2 million deal the Tigers gave to Anibal Sanchez last season. Sanchez was reportedly looking for a $100 million contract as well before 'settling' for $16.8 million a season. So $70 million or more for Santana is definitely in the realm of possibility.
If the rumor is true, it opens up a can of worms for Detroit. In order to make room for Santana, the Tigers would have to trade another incumbent starting pitcher or move Drew Smyly back to the bullpen. If GM Dave Dombrowski is as fully committed to Smyly taking Doug Fister's spot in the rotation as he appears to be, Santana joining the Tigers would start the 'Max Scherzer is available' rumors post haste.
Regardless, the Santana to the Tigers rumor just doesn't make sense. But it's not going away, either.
In an effort to try and make some sort of sense of the Tigers' rumored interest in Santana, Tony Paul of the Detroit News has come up with an interesting scenario.
If the Tigers do sign Ervin Santana, who won't be cheap, that would mean this: They inquired about Max Scherzer extension, and were floored.— Tony Paul (@TonyPaul1984) December 16, 2013