The Braves bolstered their suddenly shaky rotation earlier this week when they signed right-hander Ervin Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million contract, but general manager Frank Wren told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal this morning via phone that he isn’t planning to add another starter even with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy potentially headed for another Tommy John surgery.
“Right now, we plan on going with what we have,” Wren said. “We like what we have.”
Which means the Braves appear content relying on Julio Teheran, Freddy Garcia, Alex Wood, and David Hale to hold down the fort for now. The hope is that Santana will be game-ready by the time the Braves need a fifth starter for the first time. Mike Minor, who had a urinary tract procedure in late December and dealt with shoulder soreness upon reporting to camp, could be ready to join the rotation by mid-April.
There should be more help on the way soon. Gavin Floyd, who signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Braves over the winter, is currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery and flexor tendon surgery. Wren said he has been “extremely impressive” during his rehab and could join the rotation in mid-May.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.