Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Braves Open Wallet to Sign Pitcher Santana for 2014

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Braves Open Wallet to Sign Pitcher Santana for 2014

Article excerpt

I'm about to enter my fourth decade of tracking the Braves, which means I've seen a thing or two. The 1991 team went worst to first. Nick Esasky got vertigo. Dale Murphy got traded. Fred McGriff arrived and the press box caught fire. Francisco Cabrera swung. Sid Bream slid. Andruw Jones walked the Braves into a World Series. Heck, it was only five months ago that the Atlanta Braves announced that they were leaving Atlanta.

In sum, nothing about the Braves should shock me, but twice this calendar year they've surprised me in the best possible way. They've done things I didn't believe the Braves as owned by Liberty Media would ever do. They sank nearly $300 million into contract extensions for five young players. Then, even as most of Atlanta was fighting Wednesday morning traffic, they announced they signed the best free-agent pitcher available.

Timeline: On Sunday, Kris Medlen walked off the mound in Port St. Lucie, Fla., holding his arm; on Monday, Brandon Beachy left a game in Clearwater two innings ahead of schedule because of biceps tightness, and Tuesday, general manager Frank Wren revealed that Medlen's MRI revealed "some involvement in the (elbow) ligament."

As of Tuesday night, there was a real chance the Braves would open the 2014 season with three of their four best starting pitchers - Mike Minor also is ailing - on the disabled list. As of 8:20 a.m. Wednesday, the Braves had bought a $14.1 million remedy.

I didn't expect the Braves to sign Ervin Santana - not after spending so much on those extensions, not after their recent history of big-ticket free agents (Derek Lowe, B.J. Upton). I figured they would again try to pry Ben Sheets out of his backyard - they did it to salubrious short-term effect in 2012 - before they would get serious about a 31-year-old pitcher said to be seeking $50 million over four seasons. …

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