Posted: 8:38 am Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Help has arrived: Braves sign Ervin Santana 

By Mark Bradley

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.

27 comments
MitchellC
MitchellC

The Braves needed to do thid. The 14 mil is one thibg, but its only for one year.  If they didnt, they would have gone from having a strong chance to win the East to maybe a 500 season.  With this signing, they should again have a good chance to win the NL East

Wilbo
Wilbo

Oh, Little Markey, did you delete my comment? I completely understand, dude, honest I do. We all know we don't want anything but the absolute rosiest comments re: our darling little Bravos, and we definitely, definitely, definitely don't want anybody actually noticing that the Braves are the poster children for Ineptitude in October.

Jeff_R
Jeff_R

Kawakami?  A long-term investment?  Purdy bad 'un.  ;-)

panamaralph
panamaralph

Myself, I would not have made this deal but it is done so I will just hope I was wrong, I believe Hale or Garcia could have done the job just as well and if they didn't by the trade deadline we would have had the money available to fill whatever hole we might have, now we won't be able to do that.  Go Braves!

TideDawg
TideDawg

The really bad thing about the deal for Santana is the $14 mil. If he turns out to be a red herring get prepared for a miserable Braves season. Uggla was a $12 mil. fiasco last year and Wren just kept running him out there and watching him fail. Wren will do the same thing with Santana. No matter how bad he is he will just keep sending him out there to get their money's worth. With players from the minor leagues if they fail you can send them back to the minors and bring up another one at the same cost. It doesn't make much sense to me. Wren paid $14 mil. plus to get a pitcher that he hopes will win at least 15 games.

FarTrain
FarTrain

Someone said they sure hoped the Braves didn't pay $14M for Santana.  Then someone else says "well, it's only for one year".  How many people in the US make $14M per year, especially for part-time work?  My calculator says that's $466,000 per game based on 30 starts. Or based on 210 innings(avg. 7 inn. per start) that's $2220 per inning.  Not bad for a 31 yr. old pitcher who only has about a 50/50 chance of helping the Braves.  Must be nice !

drew48
drew48

Going into the spring training, braves had 8 starting pitchers. They technically didn't need to make a move even after Medlen. The Santana move is clearly better than not doing anything. Meanwhile, Wren continues to get criticized seemingly just for the heck of it.

We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again
We_Will_Get_Fooled_Again

Here's Baseball Prospectus' 2014 scouting report for Santana...

"The Royals traded for Santana with the idea that he’d be a stop-gap starter. A one-year rental. Then, something strange happened: He had his best season since 2008. Relying more on his slider than in the recent past, he also learned on a two-seam fastball for the first time and accelerated his trajectory toward becoming a groundball pitcher. As always with Santana, though, it was his slider that was especially lethal. Just 15 percent of all sliders thrown were put in play and opponents hit just .180 against the pitch. The Royals wisely made a qualifying offer. Santana wisely turned them down. The relationship was a win-win all around, but given how hard it is to find good starters the Royals might have wished he had been just a little bit worse in 2013."

DirtyDawg
DirtyDawg

This is just great...they end up with a mediocre, thirty-something, pitcher for more money than Hudson would have cost...and you can bet Santana and his wife (if he has one) won't be anything close to the asset to the community that the Hudson's have been...and all you guys can do is praise Wren when you should have been hammering him all along.

DaltonbywayofBickley
DaltonbywayofBickley

This spring training has been like the March weather, Mark. We go from World Series to the basement to World Series again in a matter of days.

MrGil2U
MrGil2U

No delusions about Santana, he is a more expensive Buddy Carlye but he should bolster the Braves long enough for some of the other guys healthy. I do not worry about the draft pick nor the cost, after all, it's not my money. The draft pick is a push. They are getting a proven innings eater for a prospect. 


The gNats will be better this season so the Braves need to keep it close in April and May. The offense also needs to take some pressure of the pitching staff. I don't foresee the bullpen giving up any big leads.

Dawggie
Dawggie

Good move.  Hope Medlen gets good second opinion from Andrews.

seminoleking
seminoleking

good move. i wouldve liked to see them get price when he was available, but this is the next best thing. i like this kid. like you said, he gives you value and mostly consistency. i rather have a group of solid starters vs a rotation with a super ace and scrubs surrounding him.........

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@TideDawg dude you need to stick to college football instead of complaining on this blog, we just lost our #1 starter!  This was an essential move and a really positive sign from Liberty Media that for the first time they are willing to put up the $s for this team.  A 3.24 era in the AL translates to sub 3 in the NL and he was 9-10 b/c he played for the sucky Royals.

FarTrain
FarTrain

Correction:  That would be $$66,666 per inning, not $2220.  Hit the wrong key then caught it too late. 

Diddler-on-the-Roof
Diddler-on-the-Roof

@DirtyDawg  This guy pitches 200+ innings every year and can rare back and strike a guy out.  Don't be fooled by the losses in Kansas City -- he's a solid pitcher that can be really good.  Great move, and it had to be made.  Now quit bitching

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@DirtyDawg

Spalding definition of "asset to the community": 30+ starts, 200+ IP, 13+ wins with a plus-.500 W-L record, extra credit for winning the last game he pitches in the post season. Santana posts those numbers he's unquestionably an asset.

Rick_C
Rick_C

@DirtyDawg  Santana is 31, and threw 211 innings last year to the tune of a 3.24 ERA, in the AL.  Hudson is 38, and threw 131.1 innings last year to the tune of a 3.97 ERA, in the weak NL East, and is coming off a serious ankle operation.  Obviously Hudson has a better track record, but there are numerous reasons why Santana got a qualifying offer, and a higher annual value on his contract.

seminoleking
seminoleking

@DirtyDawg  how many championships have atlanta pro teams won with "good" guys..............ill wait...............

guest_54
guest_54

@MrGil2U  In NO WAY, other than being a right-handed pitcher, is Santana any way like Buddy Carlyle!!

TideDawg
TideDawg

@CowbellHell @TideDawg You must be an Ole Miss Rebel. I like that! Ring that bell! If Santana posts those numbers with the Braves I'll be the first to sing his praises and Wren's. I hope he does live up to it. Just remember what I said. If he doesn't live up to it, you're going to get sick of seeing him go to the mound. How did you feel about seeing Uggla in the lineup everyday? Santana is no guarantee.

guest_54
guest_54

@Diddler-on-the-Roof @DirtyDawg  Well said. Plus, remember it's only a one year deal. He will be even more motivated to pitch well so he can cash in next offseason on the multi-year deal he was hoping for this year. Also, he's theoretically moving to a more friendly environment (the NL) which SHOULD present an opportunity to post even better numbers than last year.