After Braves starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy went down with injuries in Sunday’s and Monday’s games against the New York Mets respectively, it was clear that the Braves felt they needed to bring in another starter to shore up their rotation. On Wednesday, Atlanta did just that with the signing of the best starting pitcher left on the market, Ervin Santana. The deal is a one-year, $14.1 million contract. Via MLB.com:
“In light of what has happened over the past few days with our pitching staff, we felt it was incumbent on us to do everything we could to strengthen our starting pitching,” general manager Frank Wren said. “Throughout the winter, we didn’t feel like we were going to be in this market. But we felt Ervin was the No. 1 guy in the market. We’ve always felt if we were going to go out there, we would love to have him.”
Santana has to be thrilled he is finally off the market even if it was somewhat of a desperate act by the Braves due to their injuries. Before the signing, it was reported he had other offers from the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, and Toronto Blue Jays.
Both Medlen and Beachy are currently battling elbow ailments. Medlen’s situation is the more serious one, as he is most likely on his way to his second career Tommy John surgery. Beachy will be further evaluated and hopes to avoid elbow surgery for the second time since June.
“We’ve got a good ballclub,” Braves backup catcher Gerald Laird said. “To get a guy like [Santana] to solidify the top of the rotation, he’s got a good track record. I’m excited. That’s a good pickup. We have a first-class organization. They went out and got it done for us.”
Santana has been a solid pitcher over his career, posting a 105-90 record with a 4.19 ERA, 14 complete games, seven shutouts, and 1,328 strikeouts. His best season came in 2008 when he earned his only All-Star appearance with a 16-7 record and 3.49 ERA.
After struggling in 2012 (9-13; 5.16 ERA) with the Los Angeles Angels, the 31-year-old bounced back last season with a 9-10 record and 3.24 ERA, the lowest ERA of his entire career.
“He’s an established Major League pitcher,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said from Jupiter, Florida. “He was out there and he’s a competitor. I commend Frank. We lost Medlen. Beachy, you don’t know. Minor is coming along. Frank was not afraid to go get him. That’s a good thing.”
Despite the bounce-back 2013 season, Santana’s value on the market was still marred due to the fact that he had a draft pick tied to him. The Braves will have to forfeit their first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft this June.
“A development organization like us, Draft picks are very valuable,” Wren said. “So giving up the Draft pick was the hard part of this. But I think we have to keep the big picture in focus, and the big picture is to win at the big league level. That is what we’re committed to.
“We’ve got to do what’s best for our team. To get a pitcher the quality of Ervin Santana, you do that.”
At the end of the day, this was a great move by the Atlanta Braves organization. After suffering devastating blows to their rotation, they quickly made up for it with this impressive signing.
To open the regular season, Santana will anchor a rotation that includes Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, and Freddy Garcia. Other starters expected to be in the mix are Mike Minor, Brandon Beachy, and Gavin Floyd, who are all currently dealing with injury.