Baseball Insider

Sticker shock? Santana's agents make their case for $112M

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The asking price for free-agent starter Ervin Santana is indeed a bit more than $100 million, as reported.

In fact, it is a little more than a bit more. It is precisely $112 million for five years, according to people familiar with talks involving Santana.

This price may seem high at first blush, but it wasn't arrived at by throwing darts at a dartboard.

Santana's agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White and Jay Alou have a book with some surprising data that illuminates just how special Santana is. Some of it involves his consistency and durability, both of which are admirable.

But some of it revolves around a comparison to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke, and it goes well beyond the fact that both once pitched for the Kansas City Royals.

Stringfellow, White and Alou come armed with data that shows, at least over one- and three-year periods, Santana and Greinke are a lot closer than one might think. Greinke, we all know, received a $147 million, six-year Dodgers deal, with a three-year opt out. And don't think for a second the Dodgers aren't thrilled with that deal, by the way.

Greinke is considered a star, and Santana usually isn't.

But over the three years heading into their free agency, they are remarkably and shockingly similar.Greinke had a 3.83 ERA, 106 ERA plus and 1.215 WHIP. Santana had a 3.85 ERA, 101 ERA plus and 1.208 WHIP.

All the other numbers are very close, too. Except for strikeouts, where Greinke leads.

The "platform" year (the year heading into free agency) is pretty comparable, too. Greinke had a 3.48, 115 ERA plus and 1.196 WHIP in 2012. Santana had a 3.24 ERA, 127 ERA plus and 1.142 WHIP in 2013.

Greinke's stature in the game is significantly higher, of course. And there's reason for that, beyond the stats. Greinke is considered a great athlete who can help himself with fielding and hitting. Greinke has won a Cy Young Award. And Greinke does strike out more batters.

But Stringfellow, Alou and White also note that Greinke's $147 million is actually significantly better than that due to the three-year opt out. And so their asking price -- which turns out to be $112 million -- is actually reasonably lower.

The $100 million-plus figure, first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com, surprised some folks who were figuring on the $70 million to $80 million range for the pitcher who's among the elite of this market, along with Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Well, $112 million may shock a few more folks.

Stringfellow, Alou and White make a compelling case, if you listen to it.

The real question, though, is whether the general managers here are buying it.

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