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How much better does Ervin Santana make the Twins?

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Santana immediately projects to be the second-best starter in Minnesota. How much better are the Twins as a result?

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Coming out of 2014, the Minnesota starting rotation boasted a little bit in the way of promise but less in the way of reliable performance. The acquisition of Ervin Santana will balance the present and the future out a little bit more, although it should also force the Twins front office into making decisions on their excess of starting pitching.

FanGraphs features depth charts for every team around the league. Here is how they project the Twins rotation after Santana's addition.

Name IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% ERA FIP fWAR
Phil Hughes 188.0 7.5 1.6 1.2 .307 72.8 3.91 3.89 2.5
Ervin Santana 191.0 7.4 2.7 1.0 .304 70.0 4.12 3.95 2.2
Ricky Nolasco 179.0 6.3 2.2 1.1 .313 67.8 4.56 4.18 1.5
Kyle Gibson 153.0 5.7 3.0 0.8 .313 67.7 4.54 4.18 1.4
Tommy Milone 85.0 6.0 2.5 1.3 .306 70.2 4.58 4.55 0.6
Mike Pelfrey 74.0 5.4 3.2 1.1 .311 67.1 5.11 4.79 0.2
Alex Meyer 47.0 8.1 4.5 1.0 .308 69.6 4.62 4.39 0.3
Trevor May 19.0 7.2 4.4 1.1 .304 69.9 4.84 4.77 0.1
Logan Darnell 9.0 5.9 3.5 1.0 .310 68.0 4.82 4.55 0.0
Twins total SP 944.0 6.7 2.6 1.1 .309 69.4 4.39 4.18 8.8

The projected wins above replacement are up by roughly two wins. You could quite easily quibble about the system, which tends to regress to the mean, but in 2013 and 2014 Santana has posted 2.9 and 2.8 fWAR. It wouldn't surprise me to see Twins starters come in closer to 12 wins in 2015 rather than 8.8.

In total, FanGraphs gives Minnesota 29.6 wins above replacement as a team, which would equate to a 77-win team. That's quite easily a .500 ball club if one or two things go well and not too much goes terribly wrong.

Ultimately, the signing of Santana makes the Twins better because it banks on experience over potential. It's great to believe in Kyle Gibson, Trevor May, Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios, and Kohl Stewart, but the chances of even two of them panning out to be as good as we'd like them to be fall between slim and slimmer. Good teams will find a balance between productive, effective veterans, and prospects with little to no experience, and the Twins accomplished that today.

Minnesota isn't ready to compete, but they've taken a step in the right direction. There is now the challenge of how to find innings for the young pitchers who need them, but that's a good problem to have. Now let's see how the team plans to clear what's become something of a log jam.