Braves give Santana qualifying offer

Could starter Ervin Santana return to the Braves in 2015?

The Braves extended a qualifying offer Monday to free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana.

This is just a procedural move. The Braves do not expect Santana to accept this offer, as that would end his quest for a potential long-term deal. Santana has until November 10 to accept or decline the one-year, $15.3 million offer.

The move will allow the Braves to pick up a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds of the draft if a team signs Santana to contract. This will help Atlanta if they sign another free agent that would require them to relinquish their own first round pick.

Santana had a solid season for Atlanta in 2014 after being signed in spring training following the devastating injuries that ended Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy’s seasons. Santana was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA in 31 starts. He allowed 193 hits in 196 innings, with 63 walks and 179 strikeouts.

The market for Santana should be pretty decent, as teams will scramble to sign the free agent starting pitchers. MLB Trade Rumors recently predicted the Giants would sign Santana, with up to 11 teams in the market for a starter like Santana.

Santana’s age, 32, might scare some teams off from giving him a contract longer than three years, but he has proved durable. Santana has averaged 207 innings pitched in the last five seasons.

It won’t necessarily be a bad thing if Santana were to come back to the Braves, who need at least one veteran starting pitcher in the 2015 rotation. They may be better suited to re-sign Aaron Harang to a cheaper contract and spread Santana’s money around a bit.

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