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MLB: Twins sign Santana for 4 years, $54M

By Mike BerardinoSt. Paul Pioneer Press SAN DIEGO -- The Twins have completed a four-year agreement with free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana, two people with direct knowledge said. Santana, who turns 32 on Friday, will receive a guarantee of $5...

Ervin Santana
USA TODAY Sports Atlanta’s Ervin Santana pitches against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 18 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. The Twins signed Santana on Thursday for four years and $54 million.

By Mike Berardino
St. Paul Pioneer Press
SAN DIEGO - The Twins have completed a four-year agreement with free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana, two people with direct knowledge said.
Santana, who turns 32 on Friday, will receive a guarantee of $54 million and salaries of $13.5 million in each of the next four seasons, the sources said. The deal includes a fifth-year vesting option that could push the total value to
$68 million over five seasons.
The deal would be the richest free-agent contract in franchise history, topping by $5 million what the Twins paid right-hander Ricky Nolasco on a four-year deal last winter. Nolasco also received a fifth-year club option that could push the total value of his deal to $61 million.
As always, the agreement with Santana is dependent upon him passing a physical. That could take place as soon as Friday in the Twin Cities.
“We’re looking to win some baseball games here,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Wednesday evening. “We have really struggled on that mound. That’s not the only thing we have struggled with, but as an organization and as a team we have not won the amount of games we need to get up to the point where in September, we don’t want to be just a non-factor.
“We want to be playing for things beyond the halfway mark. We’ve kind of gotten to the halfway mark and the all of a sudden it disintegrates. We’re trying to get better. To get better, it probably starts right there in the rotation.”
Santana, one of the most durable starters in the game, went 14-10 with a 3.95 earned-run average in 31 starts for the Atlanta Braves in 2014. He has averaged 207„ innings over the past five seasons.
The San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees were the other three finalists for Santana, who has gone 17-17 with a 3.85 ERA in 325 career innings (52 outings) at American League Central ballparks.
In three career starts at Target Field, Santana is 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA over 20ƒ innings. Against the Twins, he has gone 6-3 with a 3.87 ERA in 13 starts.
The personable Dominican figures to slot in behind likely Opening Day starter Phil Hughes in the Twins’ 2015 rotation. Besides Nolasco, right-hander Kyle Gibson figures to hold down another rotation spot with the Twins considering the likes of Trevor May, Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey and Alex Meyer for their fifth spot.
Signing Santana, who turned down a qualifying offer from the Braves, will cost the Twins their second-round draft pick in 2015. That should be about No. 47 overall; they took Louisville closer Nick Burdi 45th overall in 2014, and Burdi rocketed up the prospect charts.
The Twins offered Santana a three-year, $33 million deal in February before he opted for a one-year, $14.1 million deal with the Braves. Atlanta did not seek to retain Santana, who struggled with bouts of inconsistency and complained at times about poor run support, but that did not keep the Twins from pursuing him aggressively.
The agreement with Santana pushes the Twins’ projected 2015 payroll to $103.5 million, including six arbitration-eligible players. Including Torii Hunter’s $10.5 million, the Twins now have eight players under contract for 2015 at $83.15 million.
Unless they offload salary between now and April, the Twins figure to open the season with the second-highest Opening Day payroll in franchise history. The only year they spent more was 2011: $113.3 million in Year 2 at Target Field.
They also fielded an Opening Day payroll of $100.4 million in 2012 before cutting that figure the past two seasons.
Santana will be the Twins’ second-highest paid player. Only Joe Mauer, at $23 million per year through 2018, will earn more per season on the current roster.
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with the Forum News Service

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