SAN DIEGO -- It took until the final day, but the Twins finally made their big splash at the Winter Meetings on Thursday.
Minnesota agreed to a deal with right-hander Ervin Santana worth a guaranteed $55 million over four years, which the club officially announced on Friday. Santana will earn $13.5 million per year for four years and also has a vesting option for 2019 that's worth $14 million and includes a $1 million buyout. The maximum value of Santana's contract is $68 million over five years.
Santana headed home in the Dominican Republic to the Twin Cities for a physical, and he will be introduced at a 10 a.m. CT news conference on Saturday at Target Field that can be streamed on twinsbaseball.com.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan was unavailable to speak to reporters about Santana on Thursday.
But Santana fills a critical need for the Twins, as Minnesota starters have combined to post the worst ERA in the Majors in each of the last two seasons. Ryan made it clear from the start he was looking to acquire pitching, and they were able to strike a deal with Santana.
Deals done: Agreeing to sign Santana was the only addition made by the Twins via free agency or trade at the Winter Meetings. They did make one other roster move, as they lost first baseman Chris Colabello on waivers to the Blue Jays on Monday, which cleared up a 40-man roster spot for Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Minnesota will have to make another roster move to make space for Santana on the 40-man.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Twins added a pitching prospect by selecting J.R. Graham from the Braves with the No. 5 pick in the Rule 5 Draft. Graham is a hard-throwing right-hander who has dealt with shoulder issues in the past, but he will be moved to the bullpen next year. Minnesota lost left-hander Sean Gilmartin to the Mets. The Twins also selected right-hander Greg Peavey from the Mets and lost left-handed pitcher Matthew Tomshaw to the Marlins in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
Goals accomplished: The Twins wanted to upgrade their rotation and did so in a big way by adding Santana to the rotation. The Twins were never going after top-tier free-agent starters such as Jon Lester, James Shields or Max Scherzer, but they wanted to find a quality arm in that next tier. The Twins also checked in on pitchers such as Brett Anderson, Ryan Vogelsong and Edinson Volquez, but Santana offers much more durability and consistency. Santana has made at least 30 starts in five straight seasons, including six of the last seven, averaging 199 innings pitched over his last seven years.
Unfinished business: The Twins are still looking for bullpen help and could look to free agency or trade to add a reliever or two. But after bumping their payroll by $24 million by adding Hunter ($10.5 million) and Santana ($13.5 million), the Twins aren't expected to make any more major additions this offseason. Their Opening Day payroll is now projected to be above $100 million for the first time since 2012.
Team's bottom line: "As an organization, we haven't won the games we need to. We don't want to be a non-factor. We want to be playing for things beyond the halfway mark. We want to get better, and it goes through the rotation and the pitching staff." -- Ryan