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.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.