One of the more intriguing storylines from the offseason, in regard to a rather lackluster free agent class, was that of Ervin Santana. The former Kansas City Royals starter spent the entire winter looking for a job, lasting until the spring exhibition season actually got underway before finally signing a deal with the Atlanta Braves. That signing was prompted by a disastrous stretch of bad luck for Atlanta, with multiple starters going under the knife in need of Tommy John surgery.
Part of what prevented Santana from locking down a deal with a big league club was reportedly his demands. He sought a nine figure contract early in the winter, reportedly, before coming down on his demands. He still wanted a multi-year deal, somewhere in the four-year and $50 million range. He wanted more than the four years and $48 million that Ubaldo Jimenez received from the Baltimore Orioles.
The Braves inked the 33-year-old Santana to a one-year contract worth just over $14 million. It was a deal that was expected to bring some stability to a rotation that was quickly crumbling because of health issues. With the two previous seasons coming with extremely mixed results, many were unsure of what the Braves might actually be getting in Ervin Santana. Safe to say, they like the results so far.
The Braves are off to a pretty strong start in the 2014 season and Santana is right in the middle of it all. He’s been among baseball’s best, though it’s still extremely early in the year. Nonetheless, the results for Santana have surpassed anything that was expected of him when he initially signed his one-year pact with Atlanta.
Through his first two starts with the Braves, Santana has struck out up over 10 batters per nine, the first time in his career that figure has hit double digits. Those 17 punchouts he has for the year go against just two free passes. His ERA for the year is an absurd 0.64, with a 2.06 FIP. He’s been absolutely fantastic, though those numbers are obvious quite unsustainable given Santana’s history.
That’s not to say that he can’t continue this run of success to a certain degree. While he has demonstrated good control over the course of his career, he’s never been a big strikeout guy. It’s unreasonable to think he’ll continue to mow down hitters at this rate. At the same time, he could be benefiting from the switch over to the National League, as a career AL pitcher prior to signing with Atlanta.
It’s obviously too early to make any judgment about what the Braves really have in Ervin Santana, but with the early results and some of these pitching injuries around the league, he’s certainly making just about every single team in Major League Baseball regret not signing him.