Should the Texas Rangers look to Ervin Santana for rotation depth?

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BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 24: Ervin Santana #54 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 24, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 24: Ervin Santana #54 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 24, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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The Texas Rangers need starting pitching depth and Ervin Santana was just designated for assignment. Should they go after him?

The Chicago White Sox announced on Friday that starting pitcher Ervin Santana was being designated for assignment.

Santana struggled with the White Sox this year. In 3 starts, he pitched 13.1 innings and allowed 14 runs on 19 hits, while allowing 6 home runs. His strikeout rate was low at just 3.4 K/9. Given his performance and a contract of over $4M, he will likely pass through waivers unclaimed, meaning he will become a free agent.

The Rangers have been in need of pitching depth since Edinson Volquez went on the IL with an elbow strain earlier this month. It is surprising that Texas has not yet pursued veteran pitching depth like they did last year by signing Yovani Gallardo.

Perhaps Levi Weaver is correct in that the Rangers felt they had similar talent in starting pitching depth available, but younger with more upside.

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If there was ever a time to add veteran pitching the time is now, though. The Rangers have both Volquez and Drew Smyly on the IL. Taylor Hearn, who debuted on the mound Thursday night, has also hit the IL with an elbow problem.

Volquez’s career is still very much in question. The goal for him is to resume throwing in a few weeks to see how his arm feels. There is a chance he calls it quits if his throwing sessions go poorly and surgery becomes an option.

Presumably, Smyly will only miss one more start, but a quick return is not a reason to avoid pursuing more pitching depth for the minors. Smyly is recovering from Tommy John surgery, as are Volquez and Shelby Miller. Thus, the risk factor stands strong for the majority of the Texas rotation.

TR Sullivan has suggested James Shields as a possibility. It is difficult to imagine though that Shields has not already received a minor league offer given his track record of being a durable pitcher who eats a lot of innings. In all likelihood, the 37-year-old is only willing to take a major league deal or else he’ll walk away from the game.

Ervin Santana has not been the same since his hand tendon injury in the winter of 2017-18, but he was one of the better starting pitchers in the American League in 2017 with the Minnesota Twins.

It is unrealistic to assume Santana can work his way back to that or even come close, but the upside could still be there considering recent history. He might not be able to return to form, but he’s certainly worth a minor league deal. The Texas Rangers can determine for themselves whether or not the veteran right-hander is still serviceable.

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