Frank Wren Comments on Santana Signing


Evan, I’m getting you another Right-hander. How’s that sound? Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Braves General Manager Frank Wren has been talking (a lot) to the media today.  Below is the audio to an interview he gave last hour on XM Radio’s MLB Network Channel 89 with hosts Mike Ferrin and former GM Jim Duquette.

Additionally, here is a link to David O’Brien’s video of the new conference introducing Santana this morning.

A few highlights from this discussion (all bullet points paraphrased):

  • Wren works by email now, it seems.  Immediately after Sunday’s game in which Kris Medlen was injured – note that this was even before Brandon Beachy came out of the game early on Monday – Wren contacted Ervin Santana’s representatives (whoever that may be this week – he was said to have fired agent Bean Stringfellow the week before).
  • Wren wrote, in effect, “It is too late to ask about your client?”  The answer “No.”  Next email “We think it would be a good fit for both of us.”  The response: “there’s mutual interest.”
  • On Monday, the Braves’ management team – having weighed pros and cons – decided that they wanted to seriously pursue Santana.  Within one hour, they had ownership approval (since they would be going well above intended payroll to sign him).
  • The Braves were ready to make an offer to him by Monday night.
  • Oddly enough, Santana had already booked a flight to Florida… somewhere in Florida… because he was anticipating taking a deal from some club located there (Toronto trains in Dunedin, NW of Tampa; Baltimore trains in Sarasota, S of Tampa).

On the topic of losing a 2014 draft pick (#26 in the first round) for signing Santana:

  • It’s a concern, yes.  It would have been a tougher decision without already having the compensation pick for Brian McCann (currently #32, could become 31 if Stephen Drew signs outside of Boston).
  • In years’ past, we’d just have said “well, we’ll spend more in Latin America” since there was no cap.  That’s no longer the case.
  • Note:  the current plan will be to give Santana a Qualifying Offer at the end of the 2014 season, and thus the Braves could more-or-less get that lost pick ‘back’ (albeit a little lower in the draft order) in 2015.

On Santana’s readiness to pitch:

  • He threw a 38-pitch bullpen session for the Braves already this morning.
  • He’s thrown 17 bullpens this Spring on his own.
  • Wren was quoted elsewhere as saying they won’t rush him

Wren made a point to mention that the Braves have been granted the “autonomy” to make baseball decisions regarding the baseball club.  That said, there are clear indications that ownership management (Team CEO Terry McGuirk) gets involved for specific points of need.  That has happened on at least three occasions this off-season:  the Cobb County stadium deal, the flurry of contract extensions, and now the over-budget signing of Santana.  Nonetheless, it is also crystal clear that the Braves and McGuirk are solidly on the same page with respect to the handling of this particular team as constructed:

Message delivered, for sure.  Here is a link to my updated payroll chart:  the Braves now sit around $115 million for 2014… before incentives.

Other Topics of Particular Note

  • Brandon Beachy.  Yes, we are concerned about him.  ‘He’s not progressing like we’d hoped.’  Wren said that once he got to Spring, Beachy’s arm got better to a point, but that he didn’t feel better at all after Monday and now he’s getting additional tests.  That can’t be very encouraging.
  • Kris Medlen.  Lots of reports today that he is getting himself mentally prepared for the inevitable:  a second Tommy John ligament replacement surgery.  Wren called this one of the most difficult things you go through as a GM because guys like Medlen are like “family” – they all grow up together like this.  Called Medlen a pretty impressive pitcher and said that he and the whole staff often don’t get the respect they deserve.

P.S. – Within the past few days, I had written of my concern that Santana might not be a typical ‘Braves type of player’ in terms of personality.  Basically, I was concerned about his fit in the clubhouse, given some of the things I’d heard about him this off-season while in pursuit of a new deal.  It sounds like I was happily wrong on that point.

Ervin Santana had a choice:  the AL East – pitching for a middle-of-the-pack team and against the likes of the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays, or the National League.  In Atlanta, he will see a lot of the Marlins, Mets, and Phillies instead while also being in a pitcher’s park with a great defense and no DH to worry about.  For a guy trying to prove his worth for a big contract, this is the ideal setup.  The Braves have evidently recognized this and jumped all over it – with breathtaking speed.

Now we’ll see how it all comes out.