Now there’s something we’re not accustomed to: The Braves did not take a wait-and-see approach.
Credit to Braves general manager Frank Wren, who more often than not is not proactive in situations like this. In the past, Wren often hasn’t responded quickly to injuries or other problems, instead letting things play out for a while before making a decision on his next move. That figured to be the case here with the regular season still three weeks away, even with Medlen, Brandon Beachy (biceps tendonitis) and Mike Minor (shoulder) all with some level of discomfort.
But Wren moved quickly. In signing Santana, the Braves likely also are making a significant financial commitment. The pitcher signed a one-year, $14.1 million contract, and he’ll become a free agent again after the season. He had been negotiating with Baltimore and Toronto but the Braves offer him a better chance to win and, therefore, build his resume for free agency.
Wren told reporters it was an “incredible decision” by ownership to approve the signing, as it will put the Braves well over their self-imposed budget of a $100 million payroll. The Braves also will have to give up a first-round draft pick for signing Santana (although they gained one when catcher Brian McCann signed with the New York Yankees).
Santana can be erratic. But he’s coming off a season in which he posted a 3.24 earned run average with the Kansas City Royals and he’s absolutely the best move the Braves could have made in their circumstances, especially without having to give up any assets in trade.
Santana, 31, spent eight seasons with the Los Angeles Angels before being traded to Kansas City after the 2012 season. He has made 30-plus starts six times and pitched over 200-plus innings five times. The Braves needed an innings-eater. His best season came in 2008, when he went 16-7 with a 3.49 ERA, 214 strikeouts and 47 walks in 219 innings. He went only 9-10 with the Royals last year but his 3.24 ERA was a career best and he had 161 strikeouts and 51 walks in 211 innings.
Here’s your Ervin Santana trivia note: He was born Johan Santana in the Dominican Republic. But in part because there already was a major league pitcher with the same name, the younger Johan decided in 2003 to make a change. leagues. “I just came up with Ervin,” Santana said
By any name, he immediately gives the Braves what they needed: a top three starter.
Credit goes to Wren.