After losing Kris Medlen to an injury diminishing their starting pitching depth, the Braves made a huge move on Wednesday. They have agreed to sign right-hander Ervin Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million deal, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
The deal is for exact amount that Santana refused when he declined his qualifying offer from the Royals earlier in the off season. But after months of very little rumors, Santana's asking price dropped noticeably, as he was close to signing with the Blue Jays on Saturday to a $14 million deal. Now, only Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales remain as unsigned players with draft pick compensation attached to them.
The Braves will be getting a steal in Santana, even if it means losing their first round draft pick (the Royals get the 28th overall pick). In 2013, Santana was one of the better pitchers in the American League. In 2013, the now 31-year-old went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA and a 3.16 K/BB ratio in 211 innings (127 ERA+). He posted a solid 2.9 WAR, as he led the Royals staff to their first winning season since 2003. Santana made $13 million with the Royals in 2013, and will be getting a slight raise with the Braves in 2014.
Over his career, Ervin Santana has posted a 4.19 ERA and a 2.52 K/BB ratio in 1,686 2/3 innings pitched. He has had some up and down seasons, but his career 100 ERA+ shows that Santana is at least an average pitcher. Now he moves to the National League for the first time in his career. Santana has gone 13-9 with a 3.82 ERA against the National League (not always in the NL park), so that can give some sense on how well he will do in the pitcher-favored NL.
"I've played my whole career in the American League, but I wanted to explore something different, to see how it goes," Santana told ESPNdeportes. "Batting doesn't scares me; I was a batter as a kid."
Although it's likely worth nothing, Santana has never thrown a pitch in Turner Field professionally. He is 1-1 with a 3.92 ERA in 3 starts against the Braves.
With this signing, the Braves have been able to add to their suddenly weak pitching depth. Although Medlen likely won't be back this season, they get a very good starter in Ervin Santana as a replacement. Santana was one of the best free agents this off season, and since he already turned down one $14.1 million deal, the Braves definitely stole the pitcher.
Last season, the Braves had one of the best rotations in the Majors, posting a 3.51 ERA (6th in MLB). With the loss of Tim Hudson , and now Kris Medlen, one will have to see if the Braves can continue to pitch well.