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O's lose out on E. Santana

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The Baltimore Orioles won't be adding another Santana to their ballclub.

After a long, drawn-out saga and what appeared to be a bidding war between the Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays, Ervin Santana has agreed to a one-year contract worth $14.1 million with the Atlanta Braves.

Ironically, that is the same amount of the qualifying offer he turned down earlier in the offseason from the Kansas City Royals.

With both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy suffering potentially significant injuries in recent days, the Braves emerged as an obvious suitor for Santana out of mere desperation.

Medlen's forearm tightness is a big concern, as it is often a precursor to Tommy John surgery. The Braves are expected to be a contender in the NL East, and Santana is the type of pitcher who could really benefit from pitching for a good team in the National League and in a better ballpark.

For the Orioles, it's not a big loss. They save salary that could be used to sign someone else or possibly acquire a key player at the July 31 deadline. The club has plenty of pitching depth, and this also gives them a little bit more flexibility with their 40-man roster.

Santana opted for a one-year deal over multi-year offers, choosing to try and establish value with a good season and look for a bigger deal in the offseason. He began the offseason looking for $100 million but instead went the way of Nelson Cruz, who was also looking for a big contract but settled for a one-year deal with the Orioles.

Teams were gun-shy about giving Santana a long-term contract after he threw significantly more sliders last year. There were concerns that the large number of sliders caused more stress on the elbow and could eventually result in Tommy John surgery. From that standpoint, the O's might have been better off passing on Santana anyway.

Bud Norris and Kevin Gausman, two pitchers who want to be a part of the starting rotation, can now breath a sigh of relief. Brian Matusz, who is hoping to be a starter once again, can also feel better about his chances of cracking the rotation now with Santana out of the picture. It also makes it that much more likely that Tommy Hunter will be the O's Opening Day closer.

Had the O's signed Santana, Norris could also be used as trade bait. The right-hander is a good value given his current contract. It would have been interesting to see if the Orioles could get anything of significant value in return for him.

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