One of the most recognizable names left on the free agent market, Johan Santana, has begun to attract a following. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, at least three American League teams—including Santana's former club, the Minnesota Twins—have interest in the veteran free agent:
The Twins, the team for which he won the two Cy Young awards, and at least two more AL teams are monitoring Santana, who may have a showcase, depending on his progress. He has been said at different points to be ahead of schedule following his second shoulder surgery in April of last year to repair a torn shoulder capsule, but he's ruled out being ready for Opening Day at this point.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal adds that a showcase isn't even a consideration at this point, noting that Santana will wait until he's closer to 100 percent to show off his surgically repaired arm for interested parties:
Minnesota has been linked to Santana throughout the winter, and a return to the team with which he had the most success over his 12-year career not only makes sense from a baseball standpoint—even after signing Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, the Twins rotation needs another quality arm—but from a business standpoint as well, as Santana would certainly draw fans to Target Field.
The New York Yankees could be one of the mystery AL teams keeping tabs on Santana as well. Not only were the Bronx Bombers linked to him earlier this winter but, as The Star Tribune's Lavelle E. Neal III points out, Santana still has a home in New York from his time with the New York Mets.
Even if Santana is 70 percent of the pitcher that he once was, he'd still offer more upside than the crop of free agent starters that remain available, with the exception of Ervin Santana.
That teams would rather roll the dice on Santana instead of signing the likes of Jair Jurrjens, Jeff Karstens, Jason Marquis, Jeff Niemann, Carl Pavano, Clayton Richard or Joe Saunders is both believable and understandable.
For even if Johan is 60 or 70 percent of the pitcher that he once was, he'd still be better than the rest of his fellow free agent starters—and he could be a difference-making midseason addition to a contender's rotation.