Freddy Garcia turned 37 in October and had a 4.87 ERA over the past two seasons, but the well-traveled pitcher’s resurgence in September and October was reason enough for the Braves to bring him back.
Garcia signed a minor-league deal Friday and provides the Braves with another fifth-starter option in case of injury or a potential move of rookie standout Alex Wood to the bullpen at some point. Garcia gets a $1.25 million salary if he makes the major league roster out of spring training, or a prorated portion of that amount for any time in majors.
He also can earn up to an additional $1.75 million in incentives based on starts made, or up to $1 million for relief appearances. Garcia has made it clear he doesn’t want to return to Triple-A, and if he’s not on the major league roster on March 25, he can opt out of the contract and become a free agent, a person familiar with the deal said.
Garcia was 3-5 with a 5.77 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) for Baltimore and languished much of the season with trhe Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate before the Braves paid a modest sum to acquire him in August.
Called up soon after from Triple-A Gwinnett, he went 1-2 with a 1.65 ERA in six September games for Atlanta, including 1-1 with a 1.83 ERA in three starts, each time allowing two runs or fewer in six innings or more.
With the Braves trailing 2-1 and facing elimination in the division series against Los Angeles, Garcia got the start in Game 4 at Dodger Stadium. He allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings and was in line for win against Clayton Kershaw until Juan Uribe’s two-run homer off David Carpenter in the eighth inning lifted the Dodgers to the win.
Garcia has a 156-108 career record and 4.15 ERA in 376 regular-season games (357 starts), and he’s 6-3 with a 3.26 ERA in 11 postseason games including 10 starts.
The Braves have three certainties returning to their starting rotation: Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor. They are also confident that Brandon Beachy will be fully recovered and ready for spring training after rehabbing from Sept. 26 arthroscopic elbow surgery — described as a “cleaning out” procedure — less than 16 months after he underwent Tommy John surgery on the elbow.
Beachy’s return would give the Braves four proven starters and a potentially formidable rotation, with Wood and fellow rookie David Hale as fifth-starter options until free-agent signee Gavin Floyd completes his rehab from Tommy John surgery. Floyd, 30, could be back in May. He signed a one-year, $4 million contract in December.
Floyd went 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 206-1/3 innings in a career-best 2008 season for the White Sox, and was a Chicago teammate of Garcia’s in 2009 and 2010.
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