The Angels got something for Ervin Santana just hours before he would have become a free agent Wednesday, trading the veteran right-hander and $1 million to the Kansas City Royals for minor league reliever Brandon Sisk.
The Angels had until 9 p.m. Wednesday to exercise Santana’s $13-million option for 2013 or buy it out for $1 million and let Santana go.
In effect, they did both, and acquired a 27-year-old left-hander who is yet to pitch in the big leagues but is expected to compete for a spot in the Angels’ bullpen next season.
“In all likelihood, we were not going to exercise the option on Ervin,” General Manager Jerry Dipoto said. “This was an opportunity for both teams to get something they did not have. The Royals didn’t have rotation depth. We didn’t have bullpen depth. In that regard, it’s a win-win.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Sisk, a Texas native who attended Azusa Pacific, was 3-2 with a 2.54 earned-run average and eight saves in 50 games for triple-A Omaha last season.
He is 17-15 with a 2.75 ERA, 317 strikeouts, 135 walks and a 1.158 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) in 291 innings over five minor league seasons. His fastball is in the 88-92-mph range, and he has a good slider.
“He’s always had the deceptive ability to miss bats,” Dipoto said. “He’s done it at every minor league level. He hasn’t had the opportunity to showcase it in the big leagues.”
Santana was reliable and durable in 2010 and 2011, going 28-22 with a 3.65 ERA and throwing a no-hitter in 2011. But he tumbled to 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA in 2012, giving up a major league-leading 39 home runs and often confounding the Angels with results that didn’t match his stuff.
He was 2-4 with an 8.16 ERA during a nine-start stretch in June and July before righting himself in August, going 5-2 with a 3.08 ERA in 10 games before being rocked for six runs in 22/3 innings of a crucial 8-7 loss to Texas in his last start.
“I was not ready for it, but they traded me, and I have to accept it and move on,” Santana said on a conference call with Royals reporters. “It’s going to be hard because I’ve known those teammates for a long time, but now I can’t wait to meet new teammates.”
The Angels must make a similar decision on Dan Haren’s $15.5-million option for 2013 by 9 p.m. Friday. Like Santana, Haren, 32, struggled in 2012, going 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA and battling lower-back tightness. Dipoto said the Santana trade will have “no impact” on how he proceeds with Haren.
The GM has also been trying to trade Haren, but if a deal isn’t completed by Friday the option probably won’t be exercised. Or, Dipoto could pick up the option and continue his efforts to trade Haren.
The Angels are expected to make a strong run at free-agent right-hander Zack Greinke, who could command a deal of five years and $110 million.
The Angels have two starters, Jered Weaver ($16.2 million) and C.J. Wilson ($11.5 million), under contract for 2013, and Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards should compete for spots.