MLB Trade Rumors released an article yesterday, “A One-Year Deal That Could Pay Off For A Decade,” painting the picture of a signing the Braves made back in 2014. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest you give it a look because they go into a lot more detail than I am about to.
First, let’s take us back to the 2014 season — the last one before the Braves decided to blow things up and start from scratch. That offseason, in order to fill out a shoddy rotation, Atlanta signed veterans Aaron Harang — who was actually fantastic for a 34-year-old in what ended up being his second to last season in the bigs, posting a 3.57 ERA — and Ervin Santana to one-year deals.
Now, the Santana signing was a different story. Following a season in which he recorded a 3.24 ERA for the Kansas City Royals, he was searching for a lucrative long-term deal — one that never came. So instead of settling for a longer contract that didn’t have the AAV he desired, he decided to sign a one-year deal with the Braves worth just over $14 million.
Santana wasn’t as electric for Atlanta as he was for the Royals the year prior, but he did post a respectable 3.95 ERA and 14-10 record in 31 starts. Once again, Santana was a free-agent and didn’t have much interest in signing another one-year deal. His expectations on AAV came back to reality, but the Braves weren’t even considering making him a multi-year offer since they were going in a different direction, entering a lengthy rebuild. However, Atlanta did place a qualifying offer on him, making sure they would receive some compensation from whoever signed him.
Santana eventually settled for a four-year contract from the Twins worth $55 million. As a result, Minnesota had to give up their second-round pick that year, and the Braves were given a compensatory selection at the end of the first round. And with one of their first moves of the rebuild, they picked Mike Soroka, who was viewed as a reach at that spot. We know now that isn’t the case.
The 22-year-old has already put it all together despite multiple arm issues early in his career. As a rookie in 2019, he became the Braves ace, going 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA. In some years, that might be good enough for the Cy Young, and it’s usually enough to win the Rookie of the Year award. However, 2019 had a few record-breaking rookies. Still, Soroka laid the foundation of what to expect from him over his career — a poised tactician on the mound with a never-changing approach, regardless of the situation.
Like MLB Trade Rumors suggested, this was a one-year contract that could end up paying off for a decade, and possibly even longer. Our own Clint Manry wrote just a couple of weeks ago about how Soroka should be at the top of the list of players the Braves should be attempting to extend. If things go well, the Maple Maddux will be in Atlanta for life.