Ervin Santana-mania ended abruptly this morning, with Santana headed to the Atlanta Braves on a one-year contract worth $14.1 million. While there's a great deal of uncertainty around Santana's eventual 2014 performance, there's no such guessing about how expensive the signing is for the Braves -- very.
The prime motivation for Atlanta's signing of Santana is tied to the health of Kris Medlen. Taken out of a game due to elbow soreness Sunday, Medlen is heading to Dr. James Andrews to have the ligament damage in his elbow examined. Medlen is a survivor of a previous Tommy John surgery, and if he's heading for another one, his 2014 is over and the Braves are without one of their key starters in what looks to be a close National League East race with the Nationals.
The NL is a better fit for Santana, and his projection reflects the environment. A ZiPS outlook of 11-8 and a 3.59 ERA in 190 1/3 innings for Atlanta is one of the better team projections for Santana; when I run ZiPS in all 30 stadiums, Camden Yards and Rogers Centre, two of his rumored destinations, were two of the worst homes for Santana, ranking 27th and 29th respectively in terms of ERA compared to league average. At 2.9 projected WAR, Santana is worth his $14 million salary.
The big problem for the Braves is the additional cost, the loss of a first-rounder for one season of paying Santana a reasonable salary.