D.J. Short

Spring Training Daily

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ST Daily: The Ervin Has Landed

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Ervin Santana's wild free agent ride finally came to an end on Wednesday morning, as he agreed to a one-year, $14.1 million contract with the Braves. This possibility wasn't even on the radar as of a few days ago, as the Blue Jays and Orioles were considered the front-runners to sign him, but the Braves decided to call an audible with Kris Medlen likely headed for a second Tommy John surgery and Brandon Beachy fighting through some elbow and biceps soreness.

When Santana declined a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Royals in November, he did so in hopes to striking it big on the free agent market. We even heard reports of him asking for a $100 million deal. While things didn't work out as planned, it was tough to blame the guy for trying. Coming off a career-best 3.24 ERA, he had a pretty good case for a lucrative multi-year deal. However, being tied to draft pick compensation severely limited his market. Given that the season is just weeks away, one could argue that he was fortunate to even get equal value to the original qualifying offer from the Royals.

Santana has had issues with the home run ball during his career, so the prospect of moving to a hitter-friendly home ballpark in either Baltimore or Toronto wouldn't have been an ideal environment to maximize his value this year and test the free agent market again next winter. Moving to the National League puts him in a favorable position to come close to what he did last year and also helps keep him on the mixed league radar. In fact, our own Matthew Pouliot has bumped him up to No. 50 among starting pitchers in the Rotoworld Draft Guide.

Editor's Note: Rotowold's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day, $100,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Opening Day's games (March 31). It's $25 to join and first prize is $15,000. The contest starts at 1:05 p.m. ET on Opening Day. Here's the FanDuel link.

Closer Carousel in Texas?

If you were hoping for a resolution with the Rangers' closer role by Opening Day, you might be disappointed. Rangers manager Ron Washington told Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Tuesday that the job remains wide open and that he could rely on a committee to close games at the start of the season.

"You'd always like one guy to do it, but if I have to use all three to help shut down a game, I'll do it," said Washington. "We haven't made a decision."

Neftali Feliz, Joakim Soria, and Tanner Scheppers are the top three candidates to replace Joe Nathan, who signed a two-year, $20 million contract with the Tigers over the winter. Feliz was considered the favorite for most of the offseason, but Washington hasn't been overly impressed with his velocity this spring. While he was sitting in the mid-to-high 90s as the team's closer from 2010-2011, he has mostly been clocked in the 92 mph range during Cactus League action.

As things stand right now, Soria might be the safer bet for save chances at the start of the year, but that could change in a hurry if Feliz shows some of his pre-Tommy John surgery form. It promises to be a fluid situation.

Quick Injury Updates

- There was some progress for Matt Kemp on Wednesday, as he played one inning in the outfield in a minor league intrasquad game. He had served as a DH in two previous games, but this was his first action in the field since his ankle surgery in October.

While this is good news, there's still no timetable on when Kemp will be ready to join the Dodgers. The Australia trip has already been ruled out, but Dodgers trainer Stan Conte indicated Wednesday that Kemp isn't expected to be ready when the team returns home to play the Padres on March 30. Patience will be required for those willing to roll the dice on draft day.

- Jeremy Hellickson threw off a mound Wednesday for the first time since undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on January 29. It wasn't much, as he made 25 throws from a distance of 45-60 feet, but he reported feeling "really good." As of now, the "best-case scenario" is that he joins the Rays' rotation in late May, but he's aiming to return by June 1.

With Hellickson on the shelf, the Rays have Erik Bedard, Jake Odorizzi, Cesar Ramos, and the recently-acquired Nate Karns competing for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Odorizzi might be the most interesting name from a fantasy perspective, but it wouldn't be surprising if the Rays try to get by with Bedard as a stopgap.
 
Anderson Continues to Impress

Hey, an update about Brett Anderson that doesn't involve an injury. Crazy, right?

Anderson had another impressive outing in Wednesday's Cactus League game against the Reds, allowing just one run on five hits and no walks over five innings. After starting out a little shaky, he retired nine out of the last 10 batters he faced and each of the last seven.

Acquired from the Athletics during the offseason, Anderson has given up just two runs in 10 innings over three starts this spring to go along with one walk and five strikeouts. Oh, and after Tommy John surgery in 2011 and a long list of injuries last year, he's finally healthy.

Anderson would have been much more appealing as a late-round flier in mixed leagues if he landed somewhere other than Colorado, but his ability to induce ground balls at least gives him a chance to keep his head above water. It's tough to count on him for much given his injury history, but he should make for an intriguing streaming option at the very least.



D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
Email :D.J. Short



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