Reports are leaking out that Ervin Santana, heading into his first arbitration hearing, and the Angels have agreed to a four-year contract with a team option on a fifth year. If the length is right, that buys out Santana’s three arbitration years plus his first free agent year with the option covering a second. Santana recently turned 26 so that contract would cover his 26-29 seasons with the option year being his 30th. That’s a nice age to lock up a pitcher.
Moving to the dollar figures, the numbers being reported is a guaranteed $30 million with the option being for another $12 million or so. Given the 40/60/80% breakdown on arbitration rewards, this comes out to 2.8 market years or 3.8 with the option. Either way, it breaks down to the Angels paying Santana at the 2.5-win level, give or take a little.
Santana certainly had a wide volatility in his performance in the past two seasons, moving from a low 4 FIP previously to one well over 5 in 2007 and then down in the low 3s this past year. From 2005 through 2007, Santana was throwing fewer strikes and missing fewer bats each subsequent year until his complete transformation in 2008 which also saw him post a career high groundball rate.
The question is going to be if that’s sustainable. If so, then Santana is legitimately one of the best pitchers in the American League and worth around five wins a year, giving the Angels a tremendous value. If he regresses all the way back to 2007, he’s only worth about one win. CHONE and Marcel have remarkably similar projections, both suggesting that he’s going to return to his 2006 performance level; a level worth about 3.5 wins.
It looks like in all but the worst case scenario, the Angels make out well here with an upside of this becoming one of the most team-friendly contracts on the books. No doubt, fantastic move for Anaheim.
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