Ervin Santana’s confounding foray into free agency ended on Wednesday morning when his one-year agreement with Atlanta became official. The Braves introduced Santana at a news conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where he will help offset an onslaught of pitching injuries to homegrown talents like Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy.
Santana reportedly agreed to a deal worth $14.1 million. That is identical to the qualifying offer the Royals gave in November. Santana rejected it, and sought a nine-figure, multi-year deal. His efforts were unsuccessful.
Reached by phone on Wednesday afternoon, general manager Dayton Moore indicated he did not regret how the situation played out. The team signed Jason Vargas to a four-year, $32 million deal in November. In January they re-upped with Bruce Chen on a one-year, $4.25 million deal. The budget pushed past $90 million for the first time, which made subsequent discussions with Santana far from fruitful.
“You’ve got to deal with the information you have at the time, and rely on the input of your entire staff, and the expectations of the player, and what the industry predicts,” Moore said. “So, not really. You can’t look back on that stuff. You’ve got to move forward.”
He added, “It’s hard to predict. But at the end of the day, I think Erv’s going to do very well. And we’re going to get the pick. And it all worked out.
Because Santana signed elsewhere, the Royals received draft-pick compensation. They now have the 28th pick in the 2014 draft, in addition to the 17th pick. That increases their bonus pool and allows them to spend more money in the draft.
“We obviously made a strategic decision to make him a qualifying offer, expecting and hoping to get a pick if we didn’t sign him,” Moore said. “That worked out well. I’ve very confident that Lonnie Goldberg and our scouting staff will put us in a position to use that pick very wisely.”
The Royals maintained contact with Santana’s representatives during the winter. But Moore learned early in the process Santana sought more than the organization felt comfortable offering. That stance did not change, even as Santana’s market flat-lined and his agents split it acrimonious fashion.
They believe Vargas can offset some of Santana’s performance in 2013 (he threw 211 innings with a 3.24 ERA). But they also want younger players like Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and perhaps Kyle Zimmer to help replace him, too.
“That’s the hope,” manager Ned Yost said. “And we think that the young candidates we have are more than able and capable. And we know that they’re young guys, and they’re going to go through some pains in their development, a little bit, at the major-league level.
“But we also know that they’re above average, talent-wise, in terms of their power as a pitcher, the quality of the stuff that they have. It’s just harnessing it, and commanding it.”