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Article: Carlos Santana Is a Perfect Fit for the Twins

carlos santana tyler austin c.j. cron
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:02 PM

Nick did a nice job highlighting the Twins’ need for OBP in a piece earlier this week. His focus was on potential upgrades among the free agent options. I’d like to add a potential trade target for consideration: Carlos Santana.

But wait, didn’t Santana just get traded? Yup, to the Seattle Mariners. That means he essentially got traded straight to the trade block. The M’s just dealt away Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz and Jean Segura, so it’s not like they’re gearing up to have a competitive season.Jayson 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.

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#2 Bill Brown69

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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:13 PM

If the price is bearable



#3 darin617


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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:27 PM

Quick question, I see Santana is a switch hitter but what side is his dominate side? If he's another guy whose better side is batting right we got that covered.


It would be nice if he brought a veteran presence to this team.

#4 Aerodeliria


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Posted 05 December 2018 - 11:31 PM

Besides the cash, no downside. With Grossman likely gone, the OBP has to be a HUGE concern for the Twins as Tom so adroitly pointed to in this piece.


Walks in key situations are very exasperating for the team in the field, while strikeouts are exasperating to the team at the plate. I'm 100% behind putting Santana in Twins pinstripes. (Besides, it just doesn't seem normal not to have a player named Santana on the roster.)

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#5 h2oface


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 05:18 AM

Yuk. I sense another Morrison season coming. I hope the Twins do better.

Like Goldschmidt (31 until September). Or Donaldson.

Oh wait, too late.

Still........ I for one, hope they do better than another overweight older vet. 32 years old (33 in April) and ready for decline. He may get on base with walks, but good luck scoring from first on a double, or getting to 3rd on a single. The Twins hardly need another .220ish hitter.

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#6 killertwinfan


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 06:43 AM

This seems to be out of step with the mindset of the front office.Plugging the gap at first base should be a priority but trading talent for a $20M per year with a guy that is moving around like a hot potato and is diminishing in the field...?Not with you.  

#7 Sconnie


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 06:51 AM


He’s a better L vs R hitter but good from both sides

Career L vs R OPS .816 OBP .376
R vs L OPS .800 OBP .357

2018 his OBP was exactly .352 from both sides but ops was still stronger as a L vs R (.816) R vs L (.747).

I like adding Santana’s bat to the lineup, but man they gotta do something in the middle infield, and the bullpen (and starting pitching and OF).

If I had to prioritize, it would be bullpen over 1b over 2b. I think they can do 1b and bullpen but 2b might be bargain bin shopping....
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#8 rv78


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 06:58 AM

Santana is too good for the Twins to pursue. They prefer guys like Cron, who are cheap. The trade of Goldschmidt is a perfect example why the Twins will never win another Championship. Other teams get the best players as the Twins settle for the leftovers that no one else wants. Dream baby, Dream!

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#9 rdehring


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 07:16 AM

Interesting, Tom.Twins best deal would include taking on ALL the salary.Would also have to include either Cron or Austin for roster purposes.What else would Seattle demand....who knows.Would be fine if it were a prospect from the high single digits to mid teens...say #7 to #16.Looking at the MLB prospect list, that would begin with Rooker and end with Diaz.Of that group, I would not include Thorpe or Javier.  


Normally, I don't like to speculate.But is taking on all the cash, Cron/or/Austin and Rooker too much for Santana?Personally, I wouldn't do it, although Austin vs. Cron is easier to stomach.But some of the others in that 7-16 group would be doable.  

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#10 ChrisKnutson


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 07:41 AM

I know the Twins just signed Cron, but assuming the M’s don’t wanna take on Santana’s contract, I could see the FO dealing Cron/Odorizzi/Castro as way of offsetting some of that cash.

If not, and the M’s eat ‘at least’ half of Santana’s contract, than I’d bet on young ML’s like Cave, Hildenberger, Slegers, Curtiss, Austin, De Jong, and or Littell being dealt (along with a couple prospects).

#11 Thrylos


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 07:53 AM

Can he pitch?


The Twins need:

2 top of the rotation starters

2 back end of the bullpen relievers

a middle infielder


before they commit $17.5 MM a year + prospects to an aging 1B/DH while just acquiring a younger (and better last season, 122 wRC+) version. 


If they want to be relevant.


They better get the money and prospects it will take towards pitching.


On the other hand, Carlos Santana may be a perfect fit for a concert at Target Field.

Edited by Thrylos, 06 December 2018 - 07:53 AM.

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#12 USAFChief


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:04 AM

I don't understand how this hasn't already happened.



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#13 jorgenswest


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:11 AM

The Twins really need a bat against right handed pitching. My preference would be to take the full contract and maybe even get prospect value back. They can also look elsewhere but they must fill this spot.
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#14 Number3


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:18 AM

"You're making the big bucks and you're not hitting or driving in runs so why should I?"

Twins do not need another Mauer salary in their lineup in 2019. Way too many ifs, ands or buts to believe that a Santana WILL make a bit of difference. WOULD or COULD ain't worth the risk.

#15 gunnarthor


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:28 AM

Santana is not the answer. He's slower than a Molina at this point. He's a DH only now. He posted a 105 OPS+ last year while playing in the bandbox that is CBP. His wOBA was actually the exact same as Robbie Grossman and they basically had the same WAR despite Santana getting 150 more PA. His numbers have been trending south for several years.


They can get Nelson Cruz without making a trade. Cruz is better and his contract would likely be less than what Santana is making now.

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#16 ashbury


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:38 AM

"You're making the big bucks and you're not hitting or driving in runs so why should I?"

Said... no baseball player... ever. :)

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#17 nicksaviking


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 08:38 AM

I'll be happy to take Santana if the Mariners are sweetening the pot with other talent.


But as much as I have always liked Santana, Cron, who nearly everyone is dissatisfied with, was a better hitter last year and is younger. At 33 years-old, I wouldn't expect Santana to start trending towards increased productivity.

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#18 puckstopper1


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 09:29 AM

While I certainly see and agree with the negatives, adding Santana's veteran Hispanic leadership could be of significant benefit - depending on the deal (of course).

That Twins 2nd baseman - #29 - he doesn't run, he "ca-rew-zes" - Earl Weaver

#19 bobs


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Posted 06 December 2018 - 09:46 AM

Let's not overthink or overanalyze this.Yes, please!

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#20 SF Twins Fan

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Posted 06 December 2018 - 09:54 AM


Way too many ifs, ands or buts to believe that a Santana WILL make a bit of difference. WOULD or COULD ain't worth the risk.


This could be said about any MLB player the Twins sign. You have no idea how that player is going to perform in the future... At least Santana has been consistently good for the last 8 years.

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