KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) – The Atlanta Braves agreed Wednesday on a one-year contract with right-hander Ervin Santana, bolstering their injury plagued starting rotation.
The 33-year-old Santana went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts for the Kansas City Royals last season and should make an immediate impact with the battered Braves, who are facing the prospect of opening the season with Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor on the disabled list.
Medlen, who had been named as Atlanta's opening-day starter, left a spring training start on Sunday after grabbing his right elbow. Initial tests showed ligament damage, and he is undergoing further examination to determine if he needs surgery for the second time in less than four years.
Beachy left a start Monday because of continuing problems with his right elbow, and Minor has yet to pitch this spring because of a sore shoulder.
Santana will be pitching in the National League for the first time in his 10-year career. He spent eight seasons with the Los Angeles Angels before being traded to the Royals in 2013, helping Kansas City post an 86-76 record, their best since 1989.
But Santana, who made $13 million in the final year of his contract, turned down a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Royals and became a free agent. Given his hefty contract demands, he remained unsigned as spring training began, despite putting up some impressive career numbers.
Santana was an AL All-Star in 2008, tossed a no-hitter in 2011, and has reached double-figure wins five times, going a career-best 17-10 in 2010 and twice winning 16 games.
Overall, he is 105-90 with a 4.19 ERA.
The Braves were desperate to add another quality arm to their rotation after a rash of injuries this spring. While the team said it has not yet determined the extent of Medlen's injury, general Frank Wren acknowledged the outlook is "worrisome." Medlen went a team-leading 15-12 with a 3.11 ERA last season.
Beachy underwent elbow surgery in 2012 and has been limited to a total of 18 starts over the past two seasons, enduring several setbacks in his attempt to come back. After his latest problem, he will miss his next scheduled spring start and faces another trip to the DL.
Minor, who underwent urinary tract surgery on Dec. 31, hopes to pitch within the next week but also seems likely to start the season on the DL while he builds his arm strength. The left-hander was 13-9 with a a 3.21 ERA in 2013.
With opening day less than three weeks away, the only healthy members of the Braves' projected rotation are second-year pitchers Julio Teheran (14-8 last season) and Alex Wood, rookie David Hale and non-roster invitee Freddy Garcia. Atlanta also signed veteran Gavin Floyd, but he is coming off Tommy John surgery and won't be ready to pitch until at least May.
Now, add Santana to the list, though it's not known how long it will take to get his arm ready for the rigors of the regular season.