March 2014

Braves sign Ervin Santana to 1-year deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Facing a potential season-ending injury to Kris Medlen, the Atlanta Braves moved quickly to shore up the rotation. The team announcing the signing of right-hander Ervin Santana to a one-year deal on Wednesday morning.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Santana will make $14.1 million this season, the same amount as the qualifying offer he turned down from Kansas City. Atlanta will surrender the No. 26 pick in this June’s draft for signing Santana.

I had a chance to catch up with Santana following Wednesday’s introductory press conference. Here’s what he had to say:

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Santana, 31, is coming of a strong 2013 campaign for the Kansas Royals, one which he had hoped would lead to a lucrative long-term contract over the winter. That failed to materialize in the wake of the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes, which left Santana among a number of proven big league arms searching for work into the new year.

Though his record was just 9-10 last season, Santana turned in a career-best 3.24 ERA in 211 innings across his 32 starts. He also saw his home runs surrendered and walk-rates fall as well.

“It’s going to be different because I don’t know the [National League], but I will be adjusted and I will do my job like always. Go out there every five days and do my work. It’s going to be fun,” said Santana.

Over the course of his nine-year career spent in the American League with Los Angeles and Kansas City, Santana has a 105-90 record with a 4.19 ERA in 1686.2 IP. With Medlen likely ticketed for a second Tommy John surgery, Atlanta is banking on Santana’s ability to provide 200 innings this season, something he has done three of the last four years.

While Santana is obviously a few weeks behind the other pitchers who have been in camps across both leagues, he has continued to take the steps to have himself physically ready to slide back into a daily routine.

“I’ve been working out every single day, throwing bullpens. I’m basically almost ready to go,” said Santana. “I need to face some hitters in a game.”

The Braves will be taking the same steps they do with all of their pitchers as they arrive for Spring Training, easing him into the day-to-day activities.

“We’re not going to push it that fast,” Braves GM Frank Wren when asked if Santana will be ready to go on Opening Day. “I think we want to take it slow – not extraordinarily slow – but I think we want to take the right amount of caution to get him ready right, because we want him to be ready for the long-haul.”

The next steps for Santana will be to throw at least one bullpen session before facing live hitting in batting practice. Wren added they may be able to get him on the mound in a game in roughly a week.

Grant McAuley covers the Braves for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Follow Grant on Twitter.