Santana declines Royals’ qualifying offer; Mendoza headed to Japan

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As expected, right-hander Ervin Santana officially rejected the Royals’ qualifying offer of $14.1 million on Monday, meaning if Santana signs with another team, the Royals will get a compensatory first-round pick in next June’s draft.

The Royals already have the 19th overall pick in 2014 and also would stand to get the 36th pick as compensation if they lose Santana.

Bean Stringfellow, Santana’s agent, told FOXSportsKansasCity.com weeks ago that Santana would not take the qualifying offer and intended to test the free-agent waters.

The Royals still may negotiate with Santana on a long-term deal, and general manager Dayton Moore has indicated the Royals will attempt to remain competitive in the process.

In other developments Monday, the Royals requested release waivers on right-hander Luis Mendoza, which also came as no surprise.

Mendoza had been rumored in recent days to be close to landing with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League. An agreement between the Royals and Nippon is believed to be in place.

Mendoza opened the season in the Royals’ rotation but had a disappointing season — 2-6 with a 5.36 ERA. In seven seasons between the Royals and Rangers, he was 16-25 with a 5.39 ERA.

Santana was one of 13 players who received a qualifying offer from their former club, and all 13 players rejected the offers. It was the second straight year every played rejected the qualifying offer.

The Royals, Moore has indicated, would like to bring Santana back, although reports that Santana is seeking $100 million over five years, if true, almost surely would exclude the Royals from serious contention for him.

Plan B? It may be former Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes, according to a report from CBSSports.com.

Hughes could be the kind of low-risk, high-reward player whom Moore has coveted in the past. Hughes made $7.5 million in 2013 and had a dreadful season, going 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA.

But Hughes has been an 18-game winner in the past and is only 27. Also, Royals pitching coach Dave Eiland is familiar with Hughes from his days coaching with the Yankees.

Another factor going in favor of a pursuit of Hughes is that the Yankees did not extend a qualifying offer to him, meaning the Royals would not have to forfeit a draft pick if they signed him.

You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email at jeffreyflanagan6@gmail.com.