Ervin Santana’s long international nightmare might be drawing to an end.
Santana’s camp is talking with multiple teams and making progress toward a new deal for the free-agent right-hander, according to major league sources.
The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams in contact with Santana’s agents at Proformance Baseball, sources said.
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Santana, 31, tweeted last Wednesday that it was his last day with his family in his native Dominican Republic. He is now working out in Arizona, according to a source. Most spring training camps open later this week.
The principal holdup in the Santana talks has been the reluctance of teams to lose a high draft pick — and accompanying pool money — as compensation for signing him.
The Blue Jays, however, hold two "protected" picks, Nos. 9 and 11. (The No. 11 pick is protected because the Jays did not sign their first-round choice last year.) The first pick that the Jays could lose is their second rounder, No. 49 overall.
The Orioles, on the other hand, would lose the No. 17 pick for signing Santana or another "qualifying" free agent such as right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez or outfielder Nelson Cruz.
While the Orioles do not want to sacrifice their first-rounder, they also might be growing desperate in their search for a veteran starting pitcher. They recently lost the bidding for free-agent right-hander Bronson Arroyo to the Arizona Diamondbacks and are unlikely to sign righty A.J. Burnett, sources said.
Santana spent last season with the Kansas City Royals, finishing 9-10 with a career-best 3.24 ERA in 211 innings. His agents originally sought a contract for more than $100 million, but their expectations surely are lower now.
The largest contract awarded to a domestic free-agent pitcher this offseason was the four-year, $50 million deal that the Milwaukee Brewers gave right-hander Matt Garza.