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Tigers rumors: Tigers reportedly "in" on starting pitcher Ervin Santana

Could Drew Smyly be headed back to the bullpen?

Jamie Squire

A report seemingly out of left field -- but actually out of Minneapolis -- surfaced earlier today: Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN out of Minneapolis reported that the Tigers may be interested in starting pitcher Ervin Santana.

Santana, a 32 year old* right-hander from the Dominican Republic, is a free agent for the first time this offseason. He spent last year with the Kansas City Royals after 12 years in the Los Angeles Angels' organization. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent back in 2000.

*He's still technically 31 as I write this, but his birthday is December 12th.

A non-tender candidate last offseason, he put up a 9-10 record, 3.24 ERA, and 3.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 211 innings for the Royals in 2013. He cut his walk rate from 3.08 batters per nine innings in 2012 to just 2.18 per nine in 2013, and he nearly halved his home run rate. This resulted in a +4.0 fWAR swing and a possible compensation draft pick for the Royals, who gave Santana a qualifying offer earlier this offseason.

There's no telling whether the Tigers are actually in on Santana, but I'm fairly certain that this one can be put to bed. While the Tigers could be without a big piece of their rotation after 2014, signing Santana at a premium in an otherwise bare market for starting pitching would not be a wise investment for a club so heavily invested in creating "flexibility" in their payroll. Santana's inconsistent career is another worry, as is the draft pick attached to him through the qualifying offer he rejected.

Unfortunately, Santana was too busy doing karaoke to be reached for comment.

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