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Mark Bradley

Help has arrived: Braves sign Ervin Santana

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Ervin Santana, Atlanta Brave. (Kevin Halip/Getty Images)

Ervin Santana, Atlanta Brave. (Kevin Halip/Getty Images)

Well, that didn’t take long. On Sunday, Kris Medlen walked off the mound in Port St. Lucie, holding his forearm. On Monday, Brandon Beachy left a game in Clearwater two innings ahead of schedule, citing biceps tightness. On Tuesday, general manager Frank Wren announced that Medlen’s MRI disclosed “involvement in the (elbow) ligament.”

At 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, the Atlanta Braves announced they’d signed Ervin Santana, the best free-agent pitcher available, to a one-year contract.

A rotation that was facing the real possibility of having three of its top four starters open the season on the disabled list has now been bolstered. This tells us that the Braves were as worried about their pitching as the rest of us, and also that they were willing to spend serious money to rectify a sudden weakness. (Santana had balked at $14 million for one season from Toronto, but ESPN is reporting that he has taken $14 million to sign with the Braves.)

Photos: 10 things to know about Ervin Santana

Let’s be clear: Santana isn’t Clayton Kershaw. His mostly good career — he’s 31 — has included some not-very-good seasons. But he’s not a long-term investment on the order of Derek Lowe or even Kenshin Kawakami. He’s a one-year Band-Aid at a time when a Band-Aid was needed.

And just like that, a rather gloomy spring training has taken on a a brighter look. Wren has made a major move in a minimal amount of time, and it isn’t a move that will compromise the organization’s finances for the next five seasons. It is, however, a move that proves yet again that the Braves are serious about winning now.

From myajc.com, our premium site: The Braves — suddenly short of starting pitching?

And a proud moment for this writer: Inclusion on a Baseball Prospectus podcast preview of the 2014 Braves.

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