Ervin Santana signs with Twins

As baseball’s Winter Meetings came to a close Thursday afternoon in San Diego the Twins stepped up and reportedly have signed veteran right-hander Ervin Santana to a four-year, $55 million contract with a fifth-year option, the largest free agent deal in team history.

Santana, who turns 32 next week, turned down a four-year $48 million deal last winter with the Twins before signing with the Atlanta Braves hoping for a big season to help boost his value for this year’s open market and obviously it worked.

In 10 years as a starter with Los Angeles, Kansas City and Atlanta, Santana has had ups and downs but if he replicates a typical season for him — 4.00 era, 14 wins, 170 K’s with a dominant slider — $13.5 million is a steal.

He projects to be the no. 2 starter behind Phil Hughes with Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson and probably top prospect Alex Meyer filling out the rotation.

In the grand scheme of things the A.L. Central division has been active in the last week.

Cleveland acquired A’s All-Star Brandon Moss to add to a dangerous lineup; Chicago signed former Yankees Closer David Robertson and traded for Oakland righty Jeff Samardzija to join Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in their rotation; and Detroit has made a bundle of moves acquiring outfielder Yoenis Cespedas from Boston and starter Alfredo Simon from Cincinnati.

With all that said here are some other factors; Moss is 31 and was never an everyday producer before joining Oakland three years ago, history suggests the White Sox paying for saves may backfire, the Dodgers signing of starter Brandon McCarthy opens a spot in the Yankees rotation and Max Scherzer leaving Detroit for New York makes sense, Simon is 33 and last season was his first as a starter, for all his highlight reel throws Cespedas had a lower OPS the last two seasons than Torii Hunter; and the defending A.L. champion Kansas City Royals have been quiet and are probably going to lose ace James Shields.

None of this is to say that the Twins will leap frog all the teams in the division, but that the activity within the division doesn’t guarantee the Twins are destined to finish last again.

Santana’s signing by the Twins means the team has no excuse not winning 75 games next season and that’s a step in the right direction.

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