After a year on the sidelines, two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana signed with the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. Santana is coming off major shoulder surgery and no one knows what he will actually offer the Orioles, but now he’s on board and it will be interesting to see how they use him.
While you may be more interested in how this news impacts MLB betting odds favoring (or against) Baltimore, the fact is Santana’s return is fascinating when you consider the pitcher he used to be. The guy was flat-out filthy during his time with the Minnesota Twins, and was very good for most of his tenure with the New York Mets.
During his 12-year major league career, Santana boasts an ERA of 3.20, a WHIP of 1.13 and a record of 139-78. The left-hander will turn 35 in a few days, and while he is coming off shoulder surgery that cost him the entire 2013 season, he still knows how to pitch.
That said, it is concerning that Santana has thrown just 117 innings in the big leagues since the end of the 2010 season.
During his showcase for interested teams last week, Santana’s fastball topped out at just 81 mph, but he’s not 100 percent back to form yet. He tore his shoulder capsule before Opening Day last year, and that was the second time he had his pitching shoulder operated on. He missed the entire 2011 season thanks to surgery on his shoulder as well.
The deal with the Orioles is a minor league contract, which means Santana will have plenty of time to get ready for the big leagues. It is unlikely that he’ll appear in any spring training games, and he could be used in relief by Baltimore as he builds up his arm strength.
This is really a no-lose contract for the Orioles. Basically they are giving a chance to a guy in his mid-30s who used to be one of the best pitchers on the planet. If it doesn’t work out, they have almost zero commitment to him and can just release him. But if he bounces back and can find some of his old magic, it would be a huge boost to a team trying to compete with the big boys in the AL East.