Capitals

RHP Ervin Santana feeling like rookie with Royals

RHP Ervin Santana feeling like rookie with Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Ervin Santana feels like a rookie again, getting a fresh start with the Kansas City Royals.

Good thing, too.

Just about all his new teammates aren't much older than rookies, anyway.

The 29-year-old right-hander took a physical with his new team, and toured Kauffman Stadium on a brisk Monday afternoon, after a trade earlier this month sent him from the Los Angeles Angels to the Royals for a minor league pitcher and some cash to help cover his contract.

``It's like I'm a rookie now,'' Santana said between meetings. ``It's a new team.''

Indeed, Santana has been a fixture in the Angels' rotation since 2005, going 96-80 with a 4.33 ERA while starting at least 28 games in eight consecutive seasons - precisely the kind of dependable starting pitching that the Royals have been lacking for close to three decades.

The Angels signed Santana as a free agent in 2000 and helped him develop into a solid starter of 96 games over the past three seasons. And even though he went 9-13 with a 5.16 ERA last season, he was good enough down the stretch to give him - and the Royals - high hopes for next season.

``I'm happy to be here,'' he said. ``Everything's healthy. Everything is ready to go.''

That was no sure thing when Santana arrived in Kansas City - there were rumors about potential elbow problems, and a decrease in velocity had caused some trepidation.

Everything has checked out, though, and the Royals believe they have a front-of-the-rotation starter to help solidify a starting corps that was abysmal last season.

``We were able to scout Ervin during the entire year, specifically the second half,'' Royals general manager Dayton Moore said shortly after the trade. ``His August and September were really good. From a statistical standpoint, he was very good.''

Santana, who will turn 30 in December, has shown the potential to be a No. 1 starter, winning at least 16 games in three seasons. He threw a no-hitter in 2011 and a one-hitter last season, yet he confounded the Angels with his inconsistencies in 2012.

His resume combined with his raw talent drew comparisons to skeptics in Kansas City of Jonathan Sanchez, the former Giants pitcher whom the Royals acquired last season, and who performed so poorly this season that the team basically gave him away midway through the summer.

Santana said he's spoken at length with Moore, along with Royals manager Ned Yost, and everyone in the organization appears to be optimistic that the hard thrower with the hard slider and backdoor curveball can become a dependable piece of the rotation.

``They called me and told me they're happy to have me,'' Santana said, ``and they can't wait to work with me, and I can't wait to work with them.''

Santana said he's also jazzed about working the Royals' collection of young defensive talent.

Left fielder Alex Gordon recently won his second Gold Glove, Mike Moustakas evolved into a solid third baseman, shortstop Alcides Escobar showed tremendous range, and Eric Hosmer had a good enough year at first base that his defense helped even out his offensive shortcomings.

``It's a young team, a lot of talent, and an aggressive team. They score a lot of runs,'' Santana said. ``To me, it's the same baseball. Nothing's changed. Just coming here to do my job.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler