Barely a day went by all offseason without a news story linking the Toronto Blue Jays to Ervin Santana. It was a pairing that made perfect sense on paper, given the team's need for a starting pitcher, so it came as a surprise when the Blue Jays missed out on the right-hander, who chose to sign with Atlanta. But according to Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos, Santana didn't turn down his team because of the money. Instead, Anthopoulos suggested that Santana and the Blue Jays were close on a deal, but that Toronto ultimately lost out to the Braves because Santana simply wasn't interested in pitching in the American League.
Anthopoulos made those comments Wednesday morning on "The Jeff Blair Show" on Toronto's Sportsnet 590 AM. According to Anthopoulos, the Jays offered Santana a deal similar to the one-year, $14.1 million pact he ended up making with the Braves, only to watch him choose Atlanta instead. Anthopoulos took Santana's rejection of the proffered contract as a sign that the right-hander simply preferred heading to the National League as opposed to staying in the AL.
When asked about the nearly constant rumors linking Santana to Toronto in the last week, Anthopoulos hinted that the Blue Jays and Santana had a deal in place, only for it to fall apart at the end. From the National Post's John Lott:
Blair asked whether the Jays ever were close to finalizing a Santana deal. Anthopoulos refused a direct answer, but came close with this: "Normally, when things really leak around the Toronto Blue Jays to an extreme degree, they’re normally done… Sometimes, when there’s a ton of fire, that’s only when things are done. That’s just a general statement that I’ll make."
The Jays' general manager wasn't the only person in Toronto's organization disappointed with Santana's decision. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons apparently also believed that Santana was headed north of the border. From Toronto radio broadcaster Mike Wilner:
The failure to sign Santana closes what was a quiet offseason for Toronto, in stark contrast to the flurry of spending and trades that Anthopoulos went through last year. The rotation, which lost Josh Johnson to San Diego in the offseason, was left especially thin. With Santana now elsewhere, the Blue Jays will roll into the season with a rotation comprised of R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Mark Buehrle in the top three spots. The bottom two places in the rotation will likely include some combination of J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison, Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond, among others. It goes without saying that Santana would have been a massive upgrade on those options. JAFFE: Winter Report Card: Has Toronto's window of opportunity already closed?