Despite missing the entire 2013 season while recovering from a second surgery on his anterior capsule, Johan Santana is drawing interest from teams including the Yankees while he rehabs and tries to return to baseball in 2014. The 35-year-old pitcher has yet to actually throw from a mound in his recovery process, and the Yankees remain very much all in on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but New York's need for pitching options means that the Yankees can afford to see if Santana can return to even a fraction of his former Cy Young winner abilities.
General Manager Brian Cashman told Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger that he wasn't sure what to make of Santana at this point, having not yet reviewed his medical records. Santana was previously able to come back from anterior capsule surgery with the Mets before pitching a no-hitter for them in 2012. Unfortunately, Santana's body was unable to hold up to the strain and he struggled down the stretch, pitching to an 8.27 ERA over his final 10 starts before the club shut him down.
Should a team like the Yankees feel like Santana is worth taking a chance on, it's possible that he could accept a minor league deal with the chance to prove himself worthy of a spot in the majors over time. If the Yankees are able to bring in Tanaka off the open market, adding Santana to the battle for the fifth starter spot along side Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno, and possibly others brought in for depth, likely couldn't hurt on a no-risk deal. It seems unlikely that Santana could return to his superstar form, but the remaining options on the market like Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez have received a lukewarm reception from the Yankees, at best, and would each require a multi-year deal. Should Cashman want to try and capture lightning in a bottle again the way he did with Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon once upon a time, Santana is probably a good candidate that comes without a lot of the downside of a contract that other free agent pitching options will demand.
Would you be willing to take a chance on Santana on a minor league deal, or should the Yankees run far, far away?