According to multiple sources (www.mlbtraderumors.com, etc.), the Atlanta Braves have signed Ervin Santana to a one year deal to shore up their rotation after Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy were hurt. Gavin Floyd isn’t due to return from surgery until about the middle of the season so the Braves swooped in and snapped up the best remaining free agent starter.
The Toronto Blue Jays, after declaring early in the off season that improving the rotation was a priority, are left out in the cold. Honestly, there are three observations that I would like to make. First, Santana made a deal that is MUCH more likely to help his career by signing with Atlanta rather than the Jays or Orioles. He’s mainly a fly ball pitcher. The heavy offenses and the band boxes in the AL East would more likely hurt his value. This seems like a very good move on his part, and I can’t fault him for it.
Second, Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays’ front office (i.e. Paul Beeston) deserve all the criticism thrown at them. They had multiple opportunities to improve their chances to take advantage of the so-called “three-year window” by using the resources that “will be there if we need them”, and did very little. I like the acquisitions of Navarro and Kratz but more needed to be done, namely 2B and the rotation. This latest turn of events even has more of the serious supporters–not just the casual fans–outraged. Their complacency is bewildering. Many have picked the Toronto Blue Jays to finish 5th in the AL East this season, based on their inactivity and the glaring holes in their line up.
Third, there’s the message that’s been sent to the players. After the debacle of 2013, changes needed to be made. It wasn’t a strong free agent crop outside of Robinson Cano, but there was plenty of value to be had. The strange thing is that no trades were made either. All the while, AA was decrying the market: prices were too high for the potential value received in return. To wit: the Cubs wanted Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman in exchange for Jeff Samardzija.
But even the players believed that signing Ervin Santana would be a positive move–several of Santana’s friends on the Jays lobbied for him to sign with the Jays. The players have reportedly been watching the various situations very closely to see what management would do. Since they’ve done nothing substantial, the message to the players is __________. If the players are jaded by the Jays inactivity and if the Jays acquire a reputation, what effect will this have on future deals? Sure it’s speculative, but…
Yes, of course, there are still 162 games to play, and everyone (except projected 4th starter JA Happ) seems healthy. And yes, this is much the same unit that had so many fans and pundits drooling last off season. But things have changed, and they’ve changed pretty dramatically. A 74-88 season after such high expectations will do that. Just like the 2013 season, more was expected of the 2013-2014 off season but very little was delivered.