Carlos Santana Is a Perfect Fit for the Twins
Image courtesy of © Bill Streicher-USA TODAY SportsJayson Stark of The Athletic reported the Mariners are telling teams “they’re fine” with holding on to Santana, but that they’ve also had trade conversations with multiple teams about moving him. I can’t imagine it would cost a great deal to acquire him. The big piece of value in the trade that sent Jean Segura to Philadelphia was J.P. Crawford, who Baseball America had as its No. 16 prospect in the game heading into last season.
Santana basically has something like $41.7 million guaranteed to him over the next two years (there’s a team option for a third season, I included the buyout in that estimate). That’s a lot, but it’s only two years. The Twins don’t have much in future liabilities, and there’s always the chance they can get Seattle to eat some of that money.
So that’s why the Mariners would likely be open to moving him, but why the Twins would want to bring him aboard?
First off, Santana had more walks (110) than strikeouts (93) last season. His 16.2 BB% trailed only Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Joey Votto. A switch-hitter, Santana also comes with no platoon concerns. He has a career .816 OPS against lefties and an even .800 OPS versus right-handers. He’s also been incredibly durable, reaching at least 600 plate appearances for eight straight seasons. He’s a guy who you can count on in the middle of your lineup everyday, no matter who is on the mound.
How about that on-base ability? On the downside, his .352 OBP was the lowest he’s posted in seven seasons. The plus side is that’s still well above league average (.318). Also, part of that dip in his OBP was due to the fact Santana had a career-low .231 BABIP in 2018 (his career BABIP is .265).
The 2019 Steamer projections like Santana to bounce back, projecting his wRC+ to jump from 109 this past season to 122 next year. That same system is forecasting a 102 wRC+ from Tyler Austin.
Speaking of which, Santana’s arrival would certainly push Austin out the door. Maybe he could be a piece that heads to Seattle in the deal to acquire Santana, who knows? I’m starting to sour on the idea of Austin getting regular playing time with the Twins next season. Ted was also wondering aloud in the blog section how much longer Austin would be around.
Strikeouts are bearable, but only to a certain point. Consider this:
Tyler Austin 36.6 K%
Miguel Sano 36.3 K%
Byron Buxton 31.7 K%
You just can't have an everyday lineup that includes all three of those guys.
Jake Cave also has some contact issues (33.0 K%) so it’s not like you’d be getting any relief in the event Buxton went down with an injury. In case you were wondering, Cron has a 22.6 K% for his career, that was up slightly to 25.9 last season. Santana’s career K% is just 16.6, and that was all the way down to 13.7 last year.
Santana is a guy who can stabilize the middle of Minnesota’s lineup, provide a veteran presence and combat a few issues that appear to be concerns for the Twins right now.
- Oldgoat_MN, bluechipper, DocBauer and 12 others like this