Braves Sign Free-Agent Pitcher Ervin Santana

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Less than 24 hours after Kris Medlen exited Sunday's start with what appears to be a season-ending elbow injury, it became apparent the Braves were at least evaluating the possibility of signing free agent Ervin Santana.

While Santana appeared to be a welcome addition to Atlanta's injury-depleted starting rotation, there was reason to wonder if the Braves would be willing to sacrifice a Draft pick and exceed their budget enough to financially compete with the offers the veteran right-hander had reportedly received from the Blue Jays, Orioles and Twins.


All of those questions were answered in an authoritative manner on Wednesday, when the Braves replenished their rotation by signing Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million contract.

Unfortunately for Santana, the Braves did not feel the need to pursue him until seeing elbow ailments force Medlen and Brandon Beachy to make early exits from the exhibition season starts they made on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

While Medlen is preparing for the likelihood he will need to undergo Tommy John surgery, Beachy remains hopeful that he will eventually distance himself from the frustration that has followed him since he first attempted to return from this same surgical procedure in June.

Santana has gone 70-60 with a 3.94 ERA in the 183 starts he has made dating back to the 2008 season, when he gained his only All-Star selection and finished sixth in balloting for the American League Cy Young Award. The 31-year-old right-hander struggled in 2012, posting a 5.16 ERA in the 30 starts he made during what was his eighth and final season with the Angels.

Santana turned things around last year, as he went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts with the Royals. Still, his attraction on the free-agent market was marred by the fact that the signing club would have to forfeit its first-round selection in the First-Year Player Draft this June because Kansas City had given the veteran pitcher a one-year, $14.1 qualifying offer in November.

Recognizing that they will be without Medlen this year and staring at the possibility that Beachy is dealing with something more than normal soreness, the Braves were willing to sacrifice their first-round selection (26th overall) to sign Santana. The blow is somewhat softened by the fact that the Braves were compensated with the 32nd overall selection when Brian McCann exited via free agency to sign with the Yankees.

Santana has been working out on his own, throwing regular bullpen sessions over the past few weeks. But instead of rushing Santana to be ready for the start of the regular season, the Braves are planning to add him to their rotation by mid-April.

If this schedule holds true, Santana could be joining the rotation around the same time as Mike Minor, who was slowed during the early days of Spring Training with left shoulder discomfort.

The Braves are planning to begin the regular season with Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Freddy Garcia and David Hale in their starting rotation. Santana and Minor could be ready when the club has to add a fifth starter by April 12. A little more than two weeks later, Gavin Floyd, who is attempting to return from Tommy John surgery, could be ready to join that quintet.

Santana completed a bullpen session at Champion Stadium on Wednesday morning and could throw a live batting-practice session later this week. If all goes well, he could make his first start of the Grapefruit League season next week.

As he drove from Port St. Lucie back to the Disney area after watching Medlen walk off the mound during Sunday's start against the Mets, Wren reached out to Santana's agent, Jay Alou, with the understanding that the veteran pitcher was in the process of being aggressively courted by the Blue Jays, Orioles and Twins.

A day after Medlen's injury, Wren's rotation plans were further complicated when Beachy made an early exit from his two-inning stint against the Phillies because of tightness in his right elbow and biceps muscle. But even before that occurred, the Braves were already making plans to sign Santana.

As they drove to Clearwater for Monday's game against the Phils, Wren was talking to Alou while Braves president John Schuerholz was on the phone with team chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk, because there was a definite need to exceed the plans to keep payroll at around $100 million.

McGuirk's willingness to do so obviously strengthened the rotation. But at the same time, he sent a message to Atlanta's players and fans that the club is committed in its attempt to defend its NL East title.

----- Source: MLB.com


Ensworth Ranked No. 1 In Divison II-AA

If the 11 head coaches in Division II-AA know anything about their classification, this year’s BlueCross Bowl Division II-AA game will involve two midstate teams – Ensworth and Brentwood Academy. Both should field great teams but whether they both reach the finals has a lot to do with how the brackets are drawn up. Only time will tell what happens here. Here’s how Division ... (click for more)

Caballero Tops Stolz In Match Play Final

KNOXVILLE -- Brendon Caballero defeated Chattanooga's Zac Stolz, 2 and 1, in the final of the 11th Tennessee Match Play Championship at the Holston Hills Country Club. Caballero, from Brentwood, beat Michael Monroe, 4 and 3, in a semifinal. Stolz advanced to the final with a 4 and 3 win over Matt Cooper. In he Senior Division, Tony Green defeated Tim Jackson, 1 up. (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $7 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Our’ American Minute

William J. Federer is one of the leading historians in the United States and every morning I am among thousands of people who get an entertaining email from him called the “American Minute.” I adore it because Bill takes a significant event in American history that happened long ago – but he remembers on the very anniversary of when it occurred. A great example is that last Thursday ... (click for more)