Ervin Santana Signs with the Braves
The Atlanta Braves, a team that has been absolutely decimated by injuries to its pitching staff, went out and signed the best available free agent pitcher by signing RHP Ervin Santana to a one-year deal. Injuries to Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, and Brandon Beachy have put an immense amount of pressure on the starting rotation. Behind Julio Teheran and Alex Wood, there are too many question marks. The deal is for one-year $14.1 million.
Santana expected to have a huge payday as a free agent this season, mostly due to posting his best season in the majors with the Royals in 2013. However, most GMs were smart to stay away from giving him a large amount of cash on a multi-year deal. In fact, of all of his potential suitors, the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Twins, only the Twins offered more than a one-year deal.
Santana is viewed as a league-average pitcher, I am here to tell you that I think that is an immense fallacy. Santana’s career ERA is 4.19 while is career FIP (a better indication of a pitcher’s talent) is 4.36. League average for both statistics is pegged at 4.00. Furthermore, Santana has a penchant for giving up the long ball. For example, his HR/FB ratio in 2012 while with the Angels was a whopping 18.9%. Thankfully in 2013 while pitching for Kansas City, he finished with a lower mark of 12.4%. Both are still not good numbers for a starting pitcher.
Nevertheless, the Braves are pretty desperate for some starting pitching depth. Rookie David Hale has shown this spring that he is more than likely not ready to be thrust into a starting pitching role with the Major League club. He will need a bit more seasoning in the minors. The upsides of Santana include his durability, he is a 9-year veteran, and has over 200 IP in 5 of those seasons. Also, Santana posted a GB% above 40% the past three seasons, with a 46.2% in 2013. This means he will definitely benefit from having a guy like Andrelton Simmons playing defense behind him. Santana will get another one-year chance to prove to all of Major League Baseball that he deserves that multi-year deal.