The Braves Signed Ervin Santana: Is It Just About 2014?
The Braves signed Ervin Santana. This news was the perfect start to a Wednesday for Atlanta fans after learning Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor are all hurt and expected to miss time. Reaction to this deal has been focused on the Braves chances for winning in 2014. It has been labeled a desperate move, but is it really? Adding Santana provides a
reliabledurable arm to anchor the rotation. Projection systems expect Santana to contribute 1.4-2.9 wins above replacement. Admittedly, his 14.1 million dollar price tag is far from a discounted rate. Taking it a step further, Santana had a negative win value (-1.0) in 2012 prior to a three-win 2013 in Kansas City. The chance of Santana being a pumpkin in terms of actual value is quite real. However, when the Braves signed Ervin Santana, it was done with ulterior motives in mind.
The Braves Signed Ervin Santana To Protect The Future
Julio Teheran had a splendid 2013 season. He threw 185 2/3 innings, accumulated 2.4 wins and earned an extension from the Braves which has the right-hander set for life at 23. An adjustment to emphasize command and fastball movement did Teheran wonders and allows for a more durable pitching profile going forward. However, the de facto number one lacks the workhorse frame to project as a 200-plus inning contributor on a regular basis. When the Braves signed Ervin Santana, his ability to eat 225 innings protects its 32.4 million dollar investment.
In 2013, Alex Wood made his MLB debut a year earlier than expected. The lefty was excellent, posting 1.6 wins in in just 77 2/3 big league innings. Insert him into the rotation and Wood is an asset, albeit one who can’t be counted on to contribute big innings totals. His mechanics have definite funk causing questions about his ultimate role. Projections have Wood accumulating between 112 and 159 innings pitched. If needed, could Wood throw 185 innings? The Braves signed Ervin Santana and can resist the temptation to push Wood too hard knowing he should be shut down at around 170.
At 26, David Hale is more rotation filler than valuable asset. However, Hale’s a minimum salaried player who held his own in Triple-A before making a stellar debut. Baseball fans are probably expecting too much from Hale based on the numbers, but he’s a fine number five starter. Given he’s never thrown more than 145 2/3 innings as a professional, expecting more than 175 from Hale is a fools errand. When the Braves signed Ervin Santana, it meant Hale can slide into the fifth spot and be skipped every so often.
Once Minor returns, a starting rotation of Minor, Teheran, Santana, Wood and Hale is competitive. Does it match the Nationals front four of Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and a fifth starter to be determined? No, but Washington is in the conversation for best rotation in baseball.
Brandon Beachy and his lingering elbow issues are bad news. Kris Medlen needing a second Tommy John procedure is even worse. For Atlanta, adding Santana as a veteran capable of throwing seven innings every fifth day stops the bleeding. Now, Manager Fredi Gonzalez has the ability to dip into his bullpen earlier in games knowing Santana can handle a larger workload. The Braves signed Ervin Santana to eat innings now to protect its healthy pitching assets for years to come. That’s worth much more than 14.1 million dollars and a late first round pick.
12 Mar 2014 / Mike Newman /
Categories: MLB Analysis
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