KANSAS CITY -- Ervin Santana is in the Royals' rotation now, but could he take over as the No. 1 starter? "If they give me the opportunity, I'll be ready for it," Santana said. "I'll be 100 percent ready for it. ... I have the tools for it. So I if they give me a chance, I just have to go out there and do the job." Santana, a right-hander with a no-hitter and a history of success with the Los Angeles Angels, was acquired by the Royals on Wednesday in a trade that sent Minor League left-handed reliever Brandon Sisk to the Angels.
Facing a Wednesday night deadline on a decision to pick up Santana's $13 million option, the Angels elected to get what they could in a deal. It was either that or let Santana go off into free agency. Royals general manager Dayton Moore said the Royals will receive some cash from the Angels but will pay the "majority" of the $13 million. In L.A., the cash involved was reported to be $1 million, equaling the cost of the buyout of Santana's option. Santana, 29 and from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, had a 9-13 record with a 5.16 ERA in 30 starts this year but improved to record 3.63 over his last 10 starts. In his eight years with the Angels, he went 96-80 with a 4.33 ERA in 236 games, all but three of them starts. Moore isn't ready to put Santana at the front of the rotation just yet. "Our goal is pretty simple. We wanted to upgrade our rotation as much as we can," Moore said. "We wanted to get guys that have the mindset of a No. 1 starter and the ability to pitch innings. We think Ervin certainly has that type of mindset and the ability to pitch innings. "I don't know where he fits. We're not done. We're going to continue to try to upgrade our rotation through trades that make sense, work internally, evaluate our young pitchers, perhaps one or two our guys in the bullpen, and we're going to explore free agency. ... It's very difficult to answer where he winds up because we don't have the full stable of candidates for our rotation at this point." Santana had 16 or more victories for the Angels three times, going 16-8 in 2006, 16-7 in 2008 and 17-10 in 2010. On July 27, 2011, he pitched a no-hitter at Cleveland. Four times he's logged more than 200 innings in a season. In 2008, he was an American League All-Star, and he's been in the postseason four times. Santana was asked if it was disappointing to be leaving the Angels for a team that has been a non-contender for years. "It's not, because the Royals have a very good team," Santana said. "They've got very good young talent and they've got a good defense, and it's very exciting." Santana joins a rotation that this year included Luke Hochevar, Bruce Chen, Luis Mendoza and Will Smith. Jeremy Guthrie, who had success in the second half, has become a free agent. Moore said he had not discussed any longer-term deal with Santana. The pitcher said he'd like to see how things work out with the Royals. That would include improving his subpar showing last year for the Angels. "I have to keep my mind confident and throw a lot of strikes and everything will change," Santana said. "I don't have any physical problem, everything was good, I just had bad luck." Among his nine victories was a June 16 one-hit shutout against Arizona. Moore said the Royals' scouting reports on Santana were positive. "His August and September were very good, and our scouts were really impressed with the way he threw," Moore said. "And from a statistical standpoint, we were very satisfied as well." Sisk, 27, this year pitched in 50 games for Triple-A Omaha and was 3-2 with eight saves and a 2.54 ERA. He was signed by the Royals in 2008 as a non-drafted free agent out of Azusa (Calif.) Pacific University. Sisk will be joining an Angels organization that has always been Santana's home and he was asked if it was tough to leave. "A little bit," Santana replied, "but at the same time, I have to realize that this is a business. They're trying to get something out [of it]. I was not ready for it but they traded me and I just have to accept it and just move on. It's going to be hard because I've known these teammates for a long time but now I'm going to have new teammates and I can't wait to meet them and hang out with them."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.