The Braves to sign Ervin Santana to a one-year deal, announcement coming this morning

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Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Atlanta Braves are completing a deal with Ervin Santana. Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that an announcement by the team is scheduled for later this morning. Multiple reporters are saying it’s a one-year deal, though the money has not yet been revealed. UPDATE: It’s a one-year, $14.1 million deal.

The deal is the product of a disastrous couple of days for Atlanta’s starting pitchers, with both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy leaving starts early. Medlen has been diagnosed with some amount of ligament damage and will soon consult with Dr. James Andrews. A second Tommy John surgery for the Braves’ would-be Opening Day starter is a distinct possibility. Beachy left a start the other day with biceps tightness. While he has downplayed the seriousness of the injury, he himself is not too far removed from Tommy John surgery, and has experienced diminished velocity this spring.

For Santana, signing with the Braves represents the end of a long, frustrating offseason. Following one of his best seasons, posting a 3.24 ERA for the Kansas City Royals last year, Santana expected to hit it big on the free agent market. The suitors did not come calling, however, leaving Santana unemployed until now. In recent days there has been talk of the Blue Jays or signing with the Orioles, but it was clearly a buyer’s market given how far along the spring already is. The starting pitching needs of the Braves came at quite an opportune time for Santana.

But the one year deal is interesting. While it may represent Santana’s best chance to make the most money in 2014 — and to play for a team expected to contend — there’s every reason to believe that, if he has a good year this year, he’ll find himself in the same position he was in this past offseason: a free agent with a qualifying offer and draft pick attached to him.

But I suppose that beats not having a job.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.