Johan Santana, who has not pitched in the majors since the 2012 season, is currently drawing interest from the Yankees. The Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres and three other teams have also shown interest, according to John Heyman. He will be 36 in March, and he won the Cy Young in 2004 and 2006 while pitching for the Minnesota Twins.
He is currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League. On Tuesday, he retired all six batters he faced on only 18 pitches. His next start during his comeback attempt will come on Thursday. He has only made 21 starts over the last four seasons due to two torn shoulder capsules and a torn Achilles tendon suffered last season during a comeback attempt with the Baltimore Orioles.
Since throwing the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1 of 2012, Santana has only pitched in 10 games. Many believe that game led to the injuries that he had in after the 2012 season because he threw 134 pitches to get that no-hitter. After pitching flawlessly that night, he allowed four runs or more in seven of his nine starts the rest of the season. The theory that over pitching him that night led to his downfall makes sense since he had a 3.24 ERA going into the no-hitter and finished the season with a 4.85 ERA.
In his last healthy season, when he was 31 in 2010, he threw 199 innings over 29 starts, had an outstanding 2.98 ERA, had 144 strikeouts and only 44 walks with the Mets. Between 2004 and 2010 with the Twins, Santana was an All-Star four times, never had an ERA above 3.33 or a WHIP above 1.21. He recorded more than 200 strikeouts in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, while being a top-five pitcher in the American League during those years.
If he continues to dominate in the Venezuelan Winter league, while not getting injured again, it would make sense for the Yankees to bring him into spring training on a minor-league deal. If the Yankees don’t add a starter who pitched well in the majors last season, he would make sense to gamble on for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. He will need to be able to locate his pitches the way he did in the beginning of 2012, and if he can, he could help the rotation until Ivan Nova returns.
When the Yankees brought in Bartolo Colon in 2011 as a 38-year-old he was coming off a year where he was out of baseball due to injury and many didn’t expect much from him. He ended the season with a 4.00 ERA over 26 starts, which is solid for a No. 5 starter. It can’t hurt the Yankees to sign Santana because he could end up being an asset in the rotation or they could cut him and not lose much.