(Reuters) - Free agent pitcher Ervin Santana finally found a home for the 2014 Major League Baseball season with the talented right-hander signing a one-year contract with the injury-hit Atlanta Braves.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the contract was widely reported to be for $14.1 million with a Braves team concerned about the condition of starter Kris Medlen, who is undergoing tests for an injury to his pitching elbow.
Santana agreed to the deal on Tuesday night and was introduced to the media at the team's Florida spring training complex on Wednesday.
After posting a 9-10 record with a sparkling 3.24 earned run average for the Kansas City Royals, Santana had been seeking a lucrative long-term deal but after failing to find a taker, he agreed to the one-year offer.
"I'm really thrilled to be in this organization with the young talent," said Santana, 31. "It's going to be a fun season for us."
Adding Santana plugged what could have been a gaping hole in the rotation for the Braves, who hope to return to the playoffs after claiming the National League East title last season.
Medlen, who was slated to be Atlanta's Opening Day pitcher, walked off the mound with what could be a serious injury on Sunday, and one day later Brandon Beachy made an early exit against the Phillies because of tightness in his right elbow.
Atlanta general manager Frank Wren said he was relieved that the organization was willing to exceed the budget to address what had suddenly become a pressing need.
"In light of what has happened over the past few days with our pitching staff, we felt it was incumbent on us to do everything we could to strengthen our starting pitching," Wren told reporters in Florida.
"Throughout the winter, we didn't feel like we were going to be in this market. But we felt Ervin was the No. 1 guy in the market. We've always felt if we were going to go out there, we would love to have him."
The Braves will open their regular season away to the Milwaukee Brewers on March 31 with Santana expected to be ready to join the rotation by mid-April, around the same time as Mike Minor, who was slowed during the early days of spring training with left shoulder discomfort.
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Julian Linden)
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