An Ervin Santana-shaped peg may fit fifth starter hole

Ervin Santana officially joined the fold on Saturday, although it’ll take him a couple of weeks to get up to speed. The White Sox announced his minor-league contract, which will turn into a $4.3 million deal if he can crack the 25-man roster.

Rick Hahn gave March 10 as a date where the Sox can establish Santana’s shape, chances and schedule. Until then, candidates like Manny Banuelos and Dylan Covey will get a chance to gain a head start on the more veteran option.

Carson Fulmer is another one you can lump in that group, as it doesn’t seem as though the White Sox have fully cemented him as a starter. After working over the winter with Driveline Baseball, he might get a chance to establish his draft-day bona fides.

All we know right now is he’s back to his draft-day delivery. He pitched 1⅓ innings against the Dodgers on Saturday, and he’s resumed fast-forwarding through his windup. Here’s Fulmer delivering a borderline strike three to Welington Castillo, which Castillo dropped to set up Fulmer’s lone walk.

It’s a marked departure from Fulmer’s more deliberate windup last season:

Will it work? Who knows. Fulmer’s results didn’t look much different. He threw a fair amount of strikes, but also struggled to get whiffs, and James Fegan said the stadium gun at him at 92-93, at least from the stretch. Fegan also relayed that Fulmer liked what he threw …

… but Fulmer’s also on record as saying he’s lied to himself before while trying to maintain a positive mindset.

This isn’t to say Fulmer has made another false step with another mechanical revision. It just may be a while — maybe after spring training — until we really know what he’s working with.

For what it’s worth, Fulmer looked better than Donn Roach, who couldn’t make it out of the first. Jordan Stephens gave up a mighty blast to Joc Pederson on his second pitch of the game, although he came back to use his high fastball for a couple of strikeouts over his two innings.

In the other split-squad game, all five pitchers were scored upon against Oakland, although Evan Marshall was the only one to have a real rough go of it.

The first day of the Cactus League schedule isn’t a time for sweeping judgments, but it’s a reminder that there isn’t one extra starter candidate who looks like a fine bet to beat the odds, which is where Santana comes into play.

Santana made just five starts for the Twins last year, and they weren’t good ones — he gave up 22 runs (8.03 ERA) on 31 hits over 24⅔, including nine homers.

Santana could be done. He’s 36 years old, and his fastball velocity fell precipitously last year, four whole miles per hour to 88.8 mph.

Then again, he’s only one year removed from 211 innings, with 16 wins and a 3.28 ERA to go along with it. One could call 2018 lost from the start, as he didn’t make his debut until late July due to a series of finger problems. He had a calcium deposit removed from the middle finger of his throwing hand in February, didn’t surface in the minors until late May, and didn’t get back to the majors until two months later. The Twins decided to cut his season short in early September to allow Santana to get platelet-rich plasma injections.

Assuming Santana’s finger issues are behind him, there’s room for middle ground between the 4-WAR pitcher he was in 2017, and the fungible junk-thrower that showed up last season. If he can find that sweet spot, then he’ll serve a purpose for the White Sox, who would then have the six credible starting candidates they need to avoid a complete relapse of last season’s issues.

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Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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My problem with it is that it isn’t a creative move, and as we all now know that is how we should judge any action/inaction by the front office.


I just hope that this deal is way more complicated than it sounds. 


Mood: Not what we meant by try to replicate 2005 again.

As Cirensica

We had a fungible junk-thrower that can give us 200 innings on the cheap with no health issues, and I hear was a great veteran presence.

Rex Fermier

On the cheap?!?


If by ‘cheap’ you mean ‘an acquisition that everyone with an interest in the white sox could well be regretting for years beyond the end of his contract’, then yeah, sure. cheap.

As Cirensica

white sox could well be regretting for years beyond the end of his contract

I think that ship has sailed long ago.


I think it’s still in dry dock.

lil jimmy

It should be easy to see if Santana can still pitch. 550 innings from Santana, Rodon and Nova would take this team a long way.


A long way to what?

lil jimmy

A long way in the right direction. Something we have not doing for years.


If you mean it buys another year for prospect developement, then I guess I agree.

I shoulda known better, but I got a little overly
optimistic when it looked like the Sox were legitimately in on Machado. At the start of the off-season I didn’t think there was a chance in a million they’d sign him and I was prepared for what we are looking at now, another season of waiting on the kids. My bad on thinking for a minute they might do anything that wasn’t “logical” and/or “prudent”. I also was temporarily blinded to the “Renisdorf factor”. After 60+ years of following this team, and almost 40 years of Jerry’s ownership I can’t believe I lost touch with the reality of what White Sox fandom really is.


Hopefully Fulmer throwing 92-93 in February means he will be throwing 95 in May.


Signing Santana is a typical, classic White Sox move. Maybe they can still get Torii Hunter.


Congrats to Carson Fulmer for this year’s White Sox BSOHL award.( my $ was on Rodon)
I look forward to years of articles on delivery tweaks, yoga workouts and goggle swaps.


I like the Santana signing as a way to take some pressure off the young guys and bullpen. Also, could lead to a decent prospect flip in July. 

Fulmer going back to pre-Sox form. Collins doing the same. Such a familiar refrain. 

As Cirensica

Santana won’t lead to no decent prospect in July. If any.

Yolmer's gatorade

If he returns close to his 2017 form, he definitely will be worth something. There are still contending teams that need starters, and there will always be injuries. If he is on track to be a 2-3 WAR starter, he’d at least bring back a Soria type of return. The trade deadline is about the time Cease or Dunning may be ready.


“Decent” also relies on the Sox switching their arm flipping strategy away from the Cordells, Tilsons and Gillaspies of available trade pieces.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I know none of those guys worked out, but they are the kind of guys I like to see them targeting in those type of deals. Former top prospects or toolsy guys who haven’t lived up to their potential because of injuries. I’d rather take a chance on a bunch of those guys then 91 MPH AAA strike throwers or slow position players with no power.


I’d prefer they go to 17-20yo/A ball or below with more risk but higher ceilings.


You mean guys like Tatis, Jr. ? Yeah, the Sox are great at scouting those guys!

Were Tilson and Gillaspie known for injuries holding them back when acquired? I thought it was just more a matter of limited tools and upside.

Yolmer's gatorade

Kodi Medeiros could be good. I think if you include Farare, Ruiz, and Veiga, who were international bonus pool money trade, the Sox have been ok at cashing in some lottery ticket type players.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Gillaspie was experiencing a mysterious drop in his numbers, and I think he may have been hurt when we got him (it seems like a lot of the guys acquired around that time were hurt)? You’re right about Tilson, nobody really projected him to be more than a 4th outfielder, but he was considered to be better than anyone they had at the time.


I may get a calcium deposit on my middle finger as a result of my reactions to the White Sox’ actions this year.


The Kenny Williams M.O., sign a broken down vet and expect results…


Here’s hoping that Ervin is 7-5 at the All-Star break and we can pull some draft picks.

Right Size Wrong Shape

If somebody’s acquiring because of his record, we should be able to trick them into a pretty nice haul.


Maybe we can even trick them into trading draft picks…