Are the Orioles going to make a pitch for more pitching? (updated)

Once you have given up three draft choices, what is one more? Once you have signed one Santana, why not two?

A match between the Orioles and right-hander Ervin Santana might be made in free agent heaven.

The big news that came out last night was that Santana now wants to sign a one-year contract for just 2014 and he wants to get it done quickly. It was also reported that he wants to play for a team with a good offense. What pitcher doesn’t, right?

Well, Ervin, the O’s offense was fourth in runs scored in the American League last year - and that was before adding Nelson Cruz. Four of their starters made the All-Star team. If you like their offense, check out their defense.

Cruz fell into the O’s laps on a one-year deal and now is it going to happen again? Is this the Year of the Bird? At least the last Month of the Bird.

On a one-year deal, maybe the O’s will even be all-in for Ervin and not be bluffing. Santana could avoid getting a qualifying offer after the 2014 season by signing right after opening day, but he is now apparently willing to forego that and sign soon. So the O’s could sign him for a year and, if they like what they see, pursue a longer deal later, or maybe get a draft pick if he moves on.

There is plenty to like about the 31-year-old Santana.

He went 9-10 with an ERA of 3.24 in 32 starts last season for Kansas City. In his career, over eight seasons with the Angels and one with the Royals, Santana is 105-90 with a 4.19 ERA.

Santana has the ability to provide quality innings. He pitched 211 innings last season and has averaged 210 innings over the last four years. Last season, he went seven innings or more 18 times. Chris Tillman, who led the O’s in innings in 2013, did that 13 times.

Since 2011, Santana has averaged 6.5 innings per start, the most among the notable free agent pitchers.

Santana pitched to a 1.14 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) last season and that would have ranked first among O’s starters in 2013. His career mark is 1.28. He has good control, averaging just 2.2 walks per nine innings last season and 2.8 over his career.

He was pretty consistent for the Royals, with an ERA of 3.37 before the All-Star break and 3.07 after. Left-handed batters hit .247 off him and right-handed hitters batted .227.

He is just a season removed from 2012, when he pitched to an ERA of 5.16 for the Angels and gave up a league-high 39 homers. After that season, he was traded to Kansas City for a minor leaguer.

In this article on last night, Ken Rosenthal wrote, “With a one-year deal, his goal would be to put together a second consecutive strong season and end lingering questions about his health. The Los Angeles Times reported in March 2009 that the pitcher had a sprained UCL in his elbow. Santana was examined independently by Dr. James Andrews on Oct. 28 and had MRIs performed on both his elbow and shoulder. Andrews, according to Santana’s agents, said the elbow was completely healed.”

Remember how the Orioles’ starting pitching didn’t get the job done last year, and remember how that was the most important aspect of the team to upgrade heading into the offseason?

The club has added one key starter and now a second key addition may be very possible.

Santana reaches agreement with Toronto: According to this tweet, Santana has come to terms with the Toronto Blue Jays on a one-year deal worth $14 million.

Now this: Not so fast on the earlier report, perhaps. According to a tweet from Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, Santana is now deciding between the Jays, who offered $14 million, and the Orioles, who have offered $13 million. Who knows exactly what all this means in actual dollars once tax implications and/or potential incentives are factored in? Stay tuned.

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