ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves hope that Gavin Floyd will be able to pitch in the majors by next May, but that may be problematic.
All the Braves have to do is look at the situation with Brandon Beachy to remember that a 12-month return from Tommy John surgery isn’t a given.
Beachy suffered a setback and ended up needing a cleanup operation on his elbow. He should be ready to go this April, but the Atlanta rotation remains shallow.
That’s why the Braves took a chance on Floyd, giving the former Chicago White Sox right-hander a one-year free agent deal that guarantees him $4 million and could reach $8.5 million if all incentives are met.
“If everything goes well, he should leave spring training ready to go out on injury rehab to start the buildup,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “So his spring training will really be in April.”
The signing of Floyd means that rookie left-hander Alex Wood could be an option to return to the bullpen. The youngster, though, is expected to start the season in the rotation with Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran and Beachy, who avoided arbitration by signing a 2014 contract for $1.45 million.
The Braves turned to Floyd after losing Tim Hudson to the San Francisco Giants and ruling out the possibility of trading for the Chicago Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija. The other relatively inexpensive free agent starters the Braves looked at included Edinson Volquez, Chris Capuano and Bruce Chen.
Floyd, 30, made five starts for the White Sox in 2013 before needing Tommy John surgery in early May. He has a 70-70 career record and 4.48 ERA in 199 major league starts, his best season 17-8 with a 3.84 ERA in 2008.
Floyd reportedly had a two-year offer from Baltimore that could have reached $20 million with incentives, but decided to go with a one-year deal instead.
“It just seemed a lot of arrows were pointing to Atlanta,” Floyd said. “It felt good for the family, and it felt good for me. I like the fact they are always a competitive team and always in the hunt. They have a good pitching coach (Roger McDowell) and a good ballpark (for pitchers).”