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Orioles make minor league deal with Johan Santana official

Mar 4, 2014, 11:40 AM EDT

National League New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana during first inning action in Washington Reuters

Johan Santana and the Orioles have finalized their minor-league contract, which was announced just now and will include an invitation to big-league camp.

Santana struggled to top 80 miles per hour while throwing for a half-dozen teams last week, so the odds of him making the Opening Day roster seem awfully slim. There’s some speculation that he could be used as a reliever, but regardless of his role Santana is seemingly destined for some time in extended spring training or the minors.

Santana is attempting to come back from two shoulder surgeries at age 35 after missing all of 2011 and all of 2013, with 117 innings of 4.85 ERA pitching (and a no-hitter) mixed in during 2012. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says the deal is worth “$3 million plus performance bonuses” if he reaches the majors.

  1. chill1184 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:43 AM

    Good luck Johan

  2. uyf1950 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    A little surprised that the Orioles didn’t include a team option for 2015 (like the Yankees did with Andrew Bailey) in case Santana does come back sometime this season and pitches decently.

    In any case it’s an almost no risk, potential decent reward for very little money by MLB standards.

    • karlkolchak - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      No risk unless they call him up and he gets lit up then. $3 million ain’t chicken feed.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        “they call him up and he gets lit up then. $3 million ain’t chicken feed.” That’s why I said almost no risk. Also whenever or IF they call him up the O’s will only be on the hook for the pro-rated amount of that $3MM for the time he is on the big league team roster. In all likelihood probably no more then half the season which would be about $1.5MM they would owe him.

  3. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    I love the Johan of old, but the idea of him as a flyball pitcher tossing 78mph “heat” in the AL East makes me sad.

    • Francisco (FC) - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      it makes the other teams salivate.

  4. rockthered1286 - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:04 PM

    I stand firm in saying the ONLY way he makes an appearance in an O’s jersey this year is if his velocity increases and/or he makes a ton of adjustments to compensate for lost velocity, and he lights up Triple A. The O’s know they have a solid (not great but solid) rotation and even beyond that, you have half of the pen with starting experience. Johan Santana would have to be better than just passable to get the call up, which is why I see a win-win situation. It’s not like “aw man Chen is hurt? That means Santana is headed up.” Far from it. In that instance it would be spot start for Gausman, or Stinson, or Britton, or Matusz, or Yoon. Then last resort (assuming he’s not showing improvement) would be Santana.

    • jwbiii - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:26 PM

      Dylan Bundy could be back by June, as well. If Santana is throwing 80 mph meatballs, the closest he’ll get to Camden Yards is on the bus from Norfolk to Allentown.

  5. thebirdsareback - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    Anytime you can get a rehabbing, cy young award winning, no hitter throwing pitcher to sign a minor league deal, JUST IN CASE, he gets it together is a good signing. No other way to spin it.

  6. themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 4, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    So he passed the physical. That, in and of itself, is a victory. Next step – a game pitch in real live MLB game. Good luck to him and good luck to the O’s, too. The division is packed with good teams so it will be a tough place for him to attempt to recover from all he’s been through

  7. musketmaniac - Mar 4, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    obviously his arm strength will improve. He will make the rotation by june.

    • beachnbaseball - Mar 5, 2014 at 7:15 AM

      “Obviously”? I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s a low risk bid for the Orioles but I doubt he has much left to give them. They went after the wrong Santana and signed the cheap, damaged one.

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