Braves Sign Ervin Santana

Having seen their rotation come into question due to a host of injuries, the Braves made what would have been a relatively shocking move just one week ago; Atlanta announced this morning that they have signed right-hander Ervin Santana to a one-year deal that is reportedly worth $14.1MM — the exact amount of the qualifying offer he rejected back in November.

Santana-Ervin

It's been a rocky offseason for Santana to say the least. Coming off one of the finest seasons of his career, the 31-year-old entered free agency with his eyes on a large multi-year contract, but like fellow free agents Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez, found that teams preferred to wait out the Masahiro Tanaka signing before turning to that trio of top MLB free agents.

Jimenez and Santana, in particular, found suitors difficult to come by due to the compensatory draft picks attached to their names after rejecting qualifying offers. When Jimenez eventually struck a four-year deal worth $50MM (the same amount Garza was guaranteed), Santana was left as the odd man out on the free agent market. He held out for his four-year deal shortly but ultimately set a new course and targeted a one-year deal with an eye toward signing as quickly as possible. That new goal came with the news that he was splitting from agent Bean Stringfellow of Proformance. However, Santana (and Jose Bautista) stuck with agent Jay Alou, who resigned from Proformance shortly after the news.

Santana posted a 3.24 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a career-best 46.2 percent ground-ball rate in 211 innings for the Royals last year — his lone season with Kansas City. Royals GM Dayton Moore acquired him from the Angels last offseason in what amounted to a salary dump after Santana posted an ERA north of 5.00 in 2012 and was rewarded for his faith in a bounce-back campaign. Santana now has a sub-4.00 ERA in three of his past four seasons and has seen his ability to produce ground-balls steadily increase since 2011.

The Braves didn't look like a team that needed a great deal of pitching after a 2013 season in which their starters finished sixth in the Majors with a combined 3.51 ERA, tied for sixth with a 3.58 FIP and also tied for sixth with a 3.65 xFIP. However, the team saw Tim Hudson depart via free agency and sign with the Giants, and more recently, they've been beset by injuries in their rotation. Kris Medlen left his Sunday start and is believed to have ligament damage in his right elbow that could require surgery. Brandon Beachy is experiencing tightness in his biceps after undergoing a pair of elbow surgeries (one of which was Tommy John) in the past two years, and Mike Minor could miss a couple of weeks to open the season after urinary tract surgery this offseason.

By making this signing, the Braves are sacrificing their No. 26 overall selection in the draft, though that loss is lessened somewhat by the fact that they will have the No. 32 overall pick after losing Brian McCann to the Yankees as a free agent. The signing also means that Royals will now gain the No. 28 selection in the 2014 draft, as Yahoo's Jeff Passan tweeted over the weekend. That will give Kansas City four of the first 58 picks in this year's draft.

Santana also drew heavy interest from the Blue Jays, Orioles (even after the Jimenez signing) and the Twins late in his free agency. Minnesota even offered a three-year deal believed to be worth $30-33MM, but Santana held firm to his desire for a one-year deal, believing himself capable of posting a big season and re-entering the free agent market next offseason. Santana, of course, could find himself in the same situation next year, but the value of next year's qualifying offer could be north of $15MM. As such, he's likely to earn at least $29MM over the next two seasons anyway, meaning Minnesota's offer is just $1-4MM greater over one more year.

Beyond that, the Braves have a tight payroll and had to make a clear exception to sign Santana this season; they may not be able to afford the risk of extending a qualifying offer, even after a solid season. Finally, another strong year would give Santana back-to-back seasons of well above-average performance and four seasons of a sub-4.00 ERA in five tries. That could be enough to persuade teams that were wary of his rough 2012 and/or the medical reports on his elbow to show interest.

MLB.com's Mark Bowman first tweeted that the two sides were nearing completion on a deal, and David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted that the Braves would announce the signing of Santana this morning. Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes confirmed that it was a one-year pact (Spanish Twitter link). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Santana's salary (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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154 Comments on "Braves Sign Ervin Santana"


NL_East_Rivalry
1 year 5 months ago

14 mil, guess he thinks Braves have a good chance to boost his value next season.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Certainly a greater chance with the Braves than the Jays or Orioles

corey
1 year 5 months ago

so he can be one and done in the playoffs?

Chad
1 year 5 months ago

rather that then none & done

FTNS
1 year 5 months ago

This move simply had to be done

Jack Cox
1 year 5 months ago

Frank Wren can go jump in a pit of fire. Seriously, I’m just absolutely ill right now, We would have had him if it hadn’t been for those Medlen kids.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

After all the good extensions he gave out, you’re suddenly saying he should jump in a pit of fire?

Now I don’t think this is that great of a move (mostly cause of the draft pick loss for a 1 year player), but the Braves had a fine offseason

Edit – Didn’t read it right. Too early in the morning.

NL_East_Rivalry
1 year 5 months ago

I think he is a fan of another team and is mad Braves signed him, not one of the Braves fans that flame Wren.

Jack Cox
1 year 5 months ago

Dude, I’m a Jays fan. I have a right to be livid.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

My mistake. It’s early in the morning and I’m still not fully up yet. Sorry man.

Ruben_Tomorrow
1 year 5 months ago

With his fly ball rate, you should be thrilled he’s not going to the AL East, let alone the team you like.

kcstengelSr
1 year 5 months ago

NL East at least has the bigger parks of Miami and Washington, so Santana might survive better in Atlanta.
I guess Ervin will have to practice his bunting skills.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 5 months ago

And some pretty bad offenses to boot. Mets and Phillies will struggle. Marlins have some young talent. Nats have decent offense if LaRoche hits and Harper stays healthy.

TheRealRyan
1 year 5 months ago

Over the past 3 seasons, Santana has a better GB% rate than Oriole starting pitchers Norris, Jimenez, Tillman and Chen, as well as Blue Jay SPs Morrow, Buehrle and Happ.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Though as Ruben Tomorrow just pointed out, I think he’d be a disaster in the AL East.

mwagner26
1 year 5 months ago

“Ruben Tomorrow”

Nice.

Ray Tran
1 year 5 months ago

I’m a jays fan too but his number against the AL East is brutal. I would of been happy if he signed with us though..

publius varrus
1 year 5 months ago

I’m a Jays fan, too, and I’m a little disappointed that nothing substantial was done to the rotation or 2B. What I really apppreciate, though, is the Scooby Doo reference. Nice one. :)

TheoHoyer
1 year 5 months ago

You want Jeff Samardzija?

Peterborough Dave
1 year 5 months ago

Yeah but now maybe the Jays can actually SIGN their first-round picks with 14 big ones floating around.

Thoughts?

TheRealRyan
1 year 5 months ago

If that was the reason, I would think Blue Jay fans should be even more angry. There is a very good chance that both of their first round picks never become average MLB players ever. To think that they would pass up on an above average MLB player today, that could help an overall decent team contend, for a potential upgrade 3-5+ years down the road would be extremely foolish in my opinion.

Teufelshunde4
1 year 5 months ago

Man you guys were signing AA’s praises just a year ago. AA proly doesnt have much job security unless Jays take a step forward this season. Another last place finish and AA is proly finished as a gm in Toronto.

BobMarley22
1 year 5 months ago

Look in the Brightside, at least we have Tomo Ohka. Or better yet, the jays could sign Tracey McGrady.

bobbie922
1 year 5 months ago

“If it hadn’t been for those Medlen kids”. Totally caught that haha. Awesome! Sorry your Jays didn’t get him, I really thought he was going there…

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

If I was a Jays fan, or any fan of any AL East team (and I am as you can see), I’d be glad we didn’t sign Santana.

bobbie922
1 year 5 months ago

Same. But it sounds like he wanted him pretty bad haha. I think that the NL East is actually a solid fit in the end. Personally I thought he’d end up in Washington until they traded for Fister.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

NL East is arguably the weakest hitters division in baseball. If not then 2nd to the AL Central.

Karkat
1 year 5 months ago

As a Sox fan, I was very hopeful that the Jays or Orioles would sign Santana >:3

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Haha, well of course you would want another team in that division to sign him.

TD272
1 year 5 months ago

As an O’s fan I’m thankful he didn’t sign with us.

cyyoung
1 year 5 months ago

Not me, they were targeting Medeiros in the Draft.

blovy8
1 year 5 months ago

Tough for them to give up the pick for one year of the guy though.

Quikmix
1 year 5 months ago

my thoughts exactly. Santana has no particular attachment to anything but contract size. If his season is good and he can sign a deal elsewhere, it’s an instant walk.

NL_East_Rivalry
1 year 5 months ago

If he does well they could possibly get another pick for him or just get him again at a good rate. Although if Braves pitchers are healthy by then, Braves may be nice and just let him walk.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

The qualifying offer is just going to increase each year with payrolls increasing more and more. The free agent market next year for SP I believe is even better. If the Braves decided to give him a QO, I think Santana should accept it. It took him this late to sign, it would take even later next year if he turned down a QO.

We’ll see what happens though.

Bronx Bombers
1 year 5 months ago

Although that is true, I think more teams will be looking for starting pitching next off season, not only because there will be more of a supply but the number of teams looking for starting pitching this offseason seemed small until recently with all the injuries. But also the pitching market was held up this offseason because of Tanaka.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

“Although that is true, I think more teams will be looking for starting pitching next off season”

True, but there are better SP on the market next year than there are this year, unless some are to get extensions which is certainly possible (like Lester and Scherzer). You’re right about the injuries, but those are things we can’t predict.

“But also the pitching market was held up this offseason because of Tanaka.”

True but not every team was in on Tanaka, and of all the teams who were in on Tanaka (Yankees, DBacks, Cubs, Dodgers, Mariners, Astros, White Sox….maybe another team I left out), none of those teams as far as we know showed any interest in Santana (at least based on reports, which is why I said as far as we know). Maybe the Yankees if they had missed out on Tanaka, but after Tanaka was signed, they showed no interest in signing Santana

Nick
1 year 5 months ago

They got a first round pick for McCann, so not too much lost

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

It’s technically a Supplemental pick for McCann, not a first round pick. The supplemental pick will be the Braves first overall pick I believe

Jack Cox
1 year 5 months ago

I’m just about done, this is going to be an utterly miserable year for the Jays. This team’s rotation has so many question marks and AA sat on his hands and did nothing except sign Dioner Navarro this year.

robbyb
1 year 5 months ago

Not to be bashing, but do you think Santana was the difference maker that was going to make the Jays not have “an utterly miserable year?”

Jack Cox
1 year 5 months ago

It was worth giving it a shot while he has protected picks.

Baseball Realism
1 year 5 months ago

They did give it a shot and a real good one too. It was down to 2 teams until the Braves jumped in last minute.

Torontopoly
Torontopoly
1 year 5 months ago

Which is exactly why he should have just got the deal done when he had the chance. AA had a strategy; wait out the market until value drops considerably. That happened and instead of pulling the trigger he waited even longer and Atlanta managed come in to the fold in two days and get something done. Had AA offered $15MM a week ago like he should have Atlanta never would have been a factor.

RetortForm
1 year 5 months ago

Santana and his reps can read the same stats the rest of us can. They never intended to sign a 1 year deal in the AL East. They know as well as anyone that it would have been the last good payday he got. He’d be out of the rotation by June with an era in the stratosphere. He’d be going from this to accepting a minor league deal next year. The Jay and Os were just negotiating ploys until someone got hurt in a location where he could succeed enough to get another QO. If ATL offers one next year, you can bet he’ll snatch it right up.
TL;DR: don’t be mad at AlexA on this one.

Torontopoly
Torontopoly
1 year 5 months ago

I agree with much of what you said but unless Santana had a time machine and saw the future, I can hazard to guess that he wouldn’t have sat around much longer banking on some unlucky team to have injury problems.

I still believe AA et. al. could have got this done had they thrown in some more cash a week ago instead of continuing a slow play until someone hit on the river.

Atlanta is unlikely to offer a QO due to internal financial restrictions which actually probably plays well into Santana’s plans (if he has a good year). It will remove the draft pick considerations from him signing elsewhere to a longer term deal.

Peterborough Dave
1 year 5 months ago

Brother, they are FAR from a contending team. Santana may have bumped them from 74 to maybe 78 wins, all things being equal. It wasn’t like he was the final piece of the puzzle. The allocation of 14 million at this stage is better spent on scouting, player development, and signing draftees- the one absolutely proven way of building a winner (and yes, I regret the Dickey trade). But hey, if they finish 3-4 games out of a playoff spot, I’ll happily eat my hat :)

1 year 5 months ago

I’m sure the Jays will miss you and Santana. Maybe you’ll get a poster as well.

LazerTown
1 year 5 months ago

Yes, did not like the inactivity. They emptied out their farm last winter for a few additions, and then do nothing? Have to do something, not just empty it and when it fails give up, they are going to be set back quite a bit and they not even trying now.

Matt
1 year 5 months ago

Guess waiting till March to try and sign a starter is a bad idea. AA is a joke hopefully this will be his last off season because he is the only one who didn’t think signing a starter was necessary. Guess Toma Okha is our pitching upgrade for the year

Mil8Ball
1 year 5 months ago

Not really improving the team after Medlan went down. Best case scenario is he is similar to Medlan…worst case, well we all know.

disadvantage
1 year 5 months ago

I can’t deny we’ve seen Santana at his worst, but most teams would be thrilled if a replacement player was “similar to Medlen.”

kcstengelSr
1 year 5 months ago

Surprised he did not sign with Philadelphia. Cole Hamels is a question mark and the Braves were hurting if 3/5 of the rotation is on the DL. The Phillies playoff hopes just sunk a bit more.

Ron Loreski
1 year 5 months ago

He’s too young.

BCleveland3381
1 year 5 months ago

Lets be honest here. The Mets have more of a chance at the playoffs than the Phillies do. And the Mets have almost no chance.

Nathan Justice
1 year 5 months ago

What playoff hopes?

1 year 5 months ago

I’d say this worked out for everyone, but I’m sure that the Braves would’ve preferred Medlen.

letsgogiants
1 year 5 months ago

That goes without saying, of course.

1 year 5 months ago

Good deal for Atlanta. Anytime you can get a solid arm for one year, it’s seldom a bad move. They lose a pick, but stand to gain one with a qualifying offer next year. For a team that lost Hudson and has some injuries to Medlen and Beachy, they could use a guy who can usually be counted on for 30+ starts

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

“They lose a pick, but stand to gain one with a qualifying offer next year”

Only if he turns it down. And the amount of $ for it is going to increase next season. Going forward, I think we might see more players accept the QO.

1 year 5 months ago

Then they get Santana essentially on a 2-year deal. When Ricky Nolasco gets 4 years, I would take Santana for half the years and a few more million a year in almost every instance

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Of course. The Nolasco deal was terrible.

bravo_84
1 year 5 months ago

You can just as easily say the same thing and input Ubaldo or Garza. Would rather have Santana on 1/14 than any of those other deals. Sure the deal cost us a pick, but it would’ve cost a lot more in terms of potential prospects to make a trade.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

My point is not about how good or bad the contract is or compared to the other contracts. My point is that he might accept the QO next year. And yes it looks like it will be a better deal than the other ones (this is assuming he has a 2013 performance again) if he did accept it next year

bravo_84
1 year 5 months ago

From a front office standpoint you just have to consider the lost pick a sunk cost and not even think about the prospect of recouping it. If it works out that they do get one back next year great, but with Santana’s age and volatility through this point of his career I wouldn’t hang my hat on anything other than innings pitched.

Bronx Bombers
1 year 5 months ago

While I agree with that, historically and statistically pitchers are usually better when they switch from the AL to NL. I would almost hang my hat on that even though I’m not saying he will have a better season, but if his numbers regress they shouldn’t be by much. I wouldn’t be surprised if his ERA were below 3.50.

Bronx Bombers
1 year 5 months ago

But Santana is going to realize if he has a down season he could risk that, most players are looking for years even if the AAV of the contract is lower then the QO. Alot of players want security but I bet he was looking for a contract for 5+ years. I bet he had many offers for 2-4 year contracts but passed on them. And earlier this offseason it was reported he was asking for around 75million which is too much for him.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

If he does have a down season, then I can’t expect the Braves to give him a QO. If he has a good but not great season (say like 2010) and if he was to get a QO, I think he’d take it

But we won’t know until next offseason. So we wait and see

Is it Opening Day yet?

1 year 5 months ago

Plus, if he accepts the qualifying offer after this season, he’d be trying to get a big payday at age 33 for 2016 and beyond. It’ll be tougher to land his target of 4-5 years at that age. He’s not getting any younger

Bronx Bombers
1 year 5 months ago

Right that the other thing is that he’s getting older so not only will it be tougher for him to piece together a good season but teams won’t want to sign him for too many years as he approaches 35.

TheRealRyan
1 year 5 months ago

Yeah, but if he throws 200 IP and say an ERA of 3.90, he would be a 5 year younger, slightly better version of Bronson Arroyo. Bronson Arroyo got 10-12 million for his age 37-39 seasons. Santana will be going into his age 32 season after next year.

Collateral96
1 year 5 months ago

Should have just taken the 33 million he’s been good and bad for years and he’s always given up more than 25 home runs per year. Solid the past few years but not 5 years worth at 15 million.

Karkat
1 year 5 months ago

If he does, then Atlanta gives ~2/30 for Santana, which is not bad at all given the market and his pre-FA expectations.

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Agreed

oh Hal
1 year 5 months ago

It depends on what sort of pitcher he is going forward. Seems as if everyone assumes that he’s new and improved.

Rally Weimaraner
1 year 5 months ago

That was a long road back to 1/14.1

MB923
1 year 5 months ago

Just under $86 million of what he originally wanted

RetortForm
1 year 5 months ago

I’d say anyone in his shoes would have taken that gamble.

jon_ullman
1 year 5 months ago

The loss of the 26th pick is not lessened by having the 32nd pick! The value of the 26th pick has nothing to do with whether or not you have the 32nd pick.

itstheduke
1 year 5 months ago

Disagree. His point is that losing the 26th pick is worse if you don’t have that near-slot pick than if you do. If the Braves are eyeing a particular player in that range (lower first round to upper second round), then by having the 32nd pick they still have somewhat of a chance of getting that player. But without the 32nd pick they have no chance.

jon_ullman
1 year 5 months ago

Your argument assumes that is one specific player that is both available in the late first round and much better than other players available in the late first round. If this were true then you’re right, having two picks in 26-32 is largely redundant but having one is very valuable. In principle it could be true but more likely it’s not. In reality there are a large number of players who are about equally good and are available at that part of the draft. Having the 26th pick increases the number of such players you draft by 1, regardless of whether or not you also have the 32nd pick. In hindsight there will likely be one player in the late first round who is dramatically better than everyone else but that doesn’t mean you would have known to draft that player.

Nathan Justice
1 year 5 months ago

Well paint me red and shove a crowbar up my nose. They signed him. I think this means Beachy has a bit more than tightness……………..

bravo_84
1 year 5 months ago

I said the same yesterday. That “routine tightness” ended his season last year, and let’s not forget even if he was healthy he has never thrown more than 141 innings in any season of his professional career.

Nathan Justice
1 year 5 months ago

Yes I do remember you mentioning that. Santana at least pitched 211 last year at 3.24. I think he’ll do alright at Turner. He also wants to do well do he can get that big money contract next year.

bravo_84
1 year 5 months ago

I’m really hoping he comes in with a chip on his shoulder. He could be a much better addition than people think if he has a little fight in him and comes in and really listens to Roger.

bravo_84
1 year 5 months ago

I’m pretty pumped that Liberty Media bit the bullet and made this happen. I really didn’t expect it to work out for financial reasons, but from a pure economic standpoint the opportunity cost of not doing this could’ve been much higher. This is a risk well worth taking.

TimotheusATL
1 year 5 months ago

good move in a tight spot by Wren (I’d always rather them cough up cash than sell the farm), and equally good move for Santana. only one bonafide bandbox in the NL East (Philly) versus three launchpads in the AL East…good opportunity to re-establish his value. and, even if Santana earns and accepts a QO, having him on a two-year deal instead of an inflated 4- or 5-year deal is still a win for the Braves.

(edited for “too early in the morning” typo disease)

Nathan Justice
1 year 5 months ago

It’s a one year deal and yes I agree about him being able to handle the NL East better than AL.

TimotheusATL
1 year 5 months ago

the “two year deal” comment refers to him potentially accepting a QO next go-around if he earns one from the Braves…sorry for not being more clear. it’s too early in the morning.

Torontopoly
Torontopoly
1 year 5 months ago

Braves owe this one to our bush league front office.

Nathan Justice
1 year 5 months ago

You talking about the Jays?

Torontopoly
Torontopoly
1 year 5 months ago

Yessir

Quipex
1 year 5 months ago

Good move for Santana. He has a much better shot at building value for next season by pitching for the Braves than he would if he went to the AL East.

Nathan Justice
1 year 5 months ago

Apparently the Braves have just blown their budget on this signing.

orangeoctober
1 year 5 months ago

after last nights news about medlen probably missing the season, i figured he was probably going to end up in atlanta. good move for braves and prob the best move santana couldve made i suppose. decent money, good team, not in the AL east, and im not sure if turner field is a bandbox but prob not as much as camden yards or rogers centre.

Nathan Justice
1 year 5 months ago

Turner is certainly not a band box. I think he is gonna do well there.

Seamaholic
1 year 5 months ago

There you go. Example #500 of why good free agents should never sign QO’s, and never will: They can always get their money.

Rally Weimaraner
1 year 5 months ago

Nelson Cruz would like to talk to you

bravo_84
1 year 5 months ago

Steroid infused Free Agents could definitely be the exception to this rule. So could light hitting shortstops, and maybe a no glove DH type. We’ll know more on exceptions B & C in the next couple weeks.

Rally Weimaraner
1 year 5 months ago

If you add enough conditions any statement becomes true. So far I see 1 player who settled for half as much, 2 unsigned players and 1 player who got his money. Thats pretty far from “they can always get their money”

bravo_84
1 year 5 months ago

Agreed. I was being facetious.

Drew M
1 year 5 months ago

He said “good” free agents.

Rally Weimaraner
1 year 5 months ago

Since 2007, Cruz has average 1.9 fWAR per season and Santana has average 2.0 fWAR. They are equally “good”

Teufelshunde4
1 year 5 months ago

Drew and Morales will not get 14 million per. Cruz took a discounted deal. Santana got lucky with ATL having some catastrophic injuries to key pitchers. The one rule that needs to be changed with QO is no one year contract can a team make a QO. Only contracts with two or more years are eligible for QO. That would eliminate teams taking advantage of players who are on one year deals.

ubercubsfan
1 year 5 months ago

I wouldn’t mind seeing something like that. But if they did make it a 2 year QO, it better be from average of top 150 or 175 instead of top 125 salaries to bring down the salaries a tad. Teams usually give more years with less per year.

kcstengelSr
1 year 5 months ago

I agree more with Teufel because large market teams can throw money around. Look at the current system with the Yankees getting more extra picks last year than anybody and the Red Sox getting more extra picks next year than anybody.
Actually, a small market team needs to keep some “franchise” fellow more than a large market team, so restrict all teams to one QO player per year maximum and make the two-year-offer in the average of, let’s say, the top 60 players in baseball. If the offer is only some one-year deal, prohibit QOs in consecutive years. Kuroda might be a Yankee forever on one-year QO deals, but small market teams can’t compete with that.

ztoa
1 year 5 months ago

He’ll do well – Marlins will be in the bottom tier in BA, Mets are the Mets, and he can throw breaking balls to the Phillies all day long. Only has to face WAS a handful of times.