• Exclusives

    Braves sign veteran Harang, release Garcia

    Camp for the Atlanta Braves has been tumultuous, to say the least, due to the constant question mark surrounding starting pitching. Over the weekend, the Braves sent The RHPs Brandon Beachy, Gavin Floyd, Kris Medlen and LHPs Mike Minor and Jonny Venters to the 15-day disabled list. In addition to those injuries, Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen, of course both needing second Tommy John surgeries on their pitching elbows and out for the entire season, recent acquisition Ervin Santana won’t be ready by Opening Day. Without Beachy, Medlen and Tim Hudson, who departed in free agency this winter, a veteran presence is desperately needed on the staff.

    GarciaUp until Monday, the belief was that veteran Freddy Garcia would fill that void and round out a strong rotation of young arms lead by Julio Teheran who has been named as the Braves’ Opening Day starter. But Frank Wren had other plans, apparently.

    Freddy Garcia’s 1-year contract this winter had an opt-out clause if Garcia didn’t make the starting rotation out of camp. With concerns about velocity and whether Garcia would be durable in the 4th or 5th spot in the rotation, the Braves released Garcia. Garcia had been a much needed addition late in the year for the Braves in 2013 when he recorded a 1.65 ERA in 3 starts and 3 dazzling relief appearances.

    Not long after that announcement was made, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Braves were going after veteran Aaron Harang who had been released by the Cleveland Indians the same day. By afternoon, the Braves announced a 1-year deal with Harang.

    Harang, 35, will begin his 13th big league season with the Braves. With the Indians this spring, Harang pitched 9 innings, allowing 2 runs on a total of 8 hits and 2 walks. In 2013, Harang had a bumpy road split between the Mariners and the Mets. He finished 2013 with a 5.40 ERA  (143 1/3 innings) and a 5-12 record. Harang has a career record of 110-116, with a 4.28 ERA. In 5 starts at Turner Field in his career, Harang has a 1-1 record with a 3.41 ERA over 34 1/3 innings, surrendering only 2 homers.

    How the Braves made the decision between Garcia and Harang is unclear, but it likely came down to money. Frank Wren has said that the Braves are about $10 million over their $100 million budget for 2014, mostly due to the urgent signing of Ervin Santana a few weeks ago. Garcia would have received $1.5 million if he made the team out of spring training and then $1.5 million plus in performance incentives.

    Both Garcia and Harang were in a similar situation for the Braves and Indians, respectively. Under union rules, their teams had to guarantee them a spot on the Opening Day roster, pay a retention bonus, or release them. Garcia spoke briefly with reporters yesterday and said the Braves didn’t want to pay his contract and that’s why he was leaving.

    The financial details of the Harang signing have not been released yet.

    With the signing of Harang, the Braves will likely begin the season with a 4-man rotation of Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Aaron Harang and David Hale. Ervin Santana will be a few weeks behind joining the rotation due to his late signing. Winter acquisition Gavin Floyd and Mike Minor could both join the rotation during the week of April 20-26. Both Floyd and Minor begin the season on the DL, Floyd is returning from Tommy John elbow surgery and Minor is recovering from shoulder inflammation. How the rotation will look at that point has everything to do with how Gavin Floyd looks and how David Hale performs in the early going.

    Tara Rowe is an independent historian and beat writer for BravesWire.com. Follow Tara on Twitter @framethepitch.