The Phillies have had three strikes in their rotation this Spring. Strike one: Jonathan Pettibone going down with an injury. Strike two: Cole Hamels' "fatigue" from an offseason illness that has him out until at least May. Strike three: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez showing that he has little control over what he is throwing and demonstrating that he would not be ready for the 2014 Phillies to start the season. The Phillies, intent on contending this season, may be willing to make one final splash.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Phillies could be looking for pitching help:
Phillies now inquiring about Ervin Santana— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) March 7, 2014
The Phillies could sign Santana to a four-year contract around the same total package that Matt Garza got from the Brewers. Then, the team could backload the deal so that the 2014 salary is not too large and increases in 2015 when the Phillies see A.J. Burnett's contract come off of the books. Hopefully by then the team would have Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, Jesse Biddle, or an arm like Mario Hollands ready to go to take Burnett's rotation spot.
Of course, the Phillies may not even have to go four years for Santana, who remains in free agency, despite Spring Training entering its third week. Santana also reportedly may be firing his agent, Bean Stringfellow, who also represented former Phillie Billy Wagner. The primary competition for Santana's services might be the Baltimore Orioles, who reportedly may add one more piece to their rotation even after adding Ubaldo Jimenez.
Since Santana is still out there, he could be a reasonably-priced pickup for the Phillies. Chances are the Phillies have to add someone who can pitch every fifth day, and Santana is better than some of the other options. Phillies fans (and hopefully the team) learned all too well what happens when you give too many starts to someone not qualified to do so in 2004 after Paul Abbott. The 86-76 Phillies would have done much better if Abbott hadn't been allowed to go 1-6 with a 6.21 ERA in Randy Wolf's absence.
If the Phillies truly want to contend, this would be the right move.