Handing out big contracts to free agent pitchers is the new sexy thing for the Minnesota Twins. One year after the organization handed out $84 million to three different pitchers, they set the franchise record for the biggest free agent contract in the history of the organization by inking Ervin Santana to a four-year, $54 million dollar contract.
After some confusion, it seems that Santana's contract has just one option year.
Source: Ervin Santana's deal has no 6th year vesting option. 5th year vests at $14M w/200 IP in '18 & 400 IP in '17-'18 & passes physical.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) December 15, 2014
Let's tackle that option year and how it could vest after having a look at the year-by-year details.
|Ervin Santana||2015||2016||2017||2018||2019 *||Total Guaranteed|
|Salary||$13.5 MM||$13.5 MM||$13.5 MM||$13.5 MM||$14 MM||$55,000,000|
* 2019 Option
The option has a buyout of $1 million, which is why Santana's four-year deal actually guarantees him $55 million. For the option to vest, he must meet this criteria:
- He throws 400 innings between 2017 and 2018
- At least 200 of those innings come in 2018
- He passes a physical after the 2018 season
How likely is it that Santana gets to cash in on that option? Not very. In the first instance, Santana has recorded consecutive 200-inning seasons just once in his career. In the second instance, of the 34 pitchers in all of baseball who managed to hit 200 innings in 2014, 16 were either in their age-30 season or older. Just five (Mark Buehrle, Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey, A.J. Burnett, Aaron Harang) were the age Santana will be when he needs to earn that option (35 or older). Buehrle, Dickey and Burnett pitched the required 400 innings in the last two years.
In all likelihood, this is going to be a four-year commitment for Minnesota and it will cost them $55 million. Santana will need to accumulate roughly 7.8 fWAR to be worth his contract in 2014 dollars, and that's a total he's a good bet to hit even if we don't take into account the increasing value of wins on the open market.