Cleveland Indians veteran first baseman Carlos Santana agreed to a contract with the Kansas City Royals this afternoon for $17 million over two years. Emoji Man himself, Jon Heyman, was first on the scene with the news.
Carlos Santana agrees with Royals: $17M, two years— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 8, 2020
First baseman Carlos Santana and the Kansas City Royals are in agreement on a two-year, $17 million deal, sources confirm to ESPN. Royals had been heavy in the first base market and get a veteran with power and on-base skills. @JonHeyman was first on the deal.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2020
Santana owns a wRC+ of 121 for his career driven by his unique approach at the plate. Santana’s calling card is his ability to draw walks as evidenced by his .248/.366/.446 career slash and 15.7% career walk rate. The only player in baseball with more walks from 2010-2020 is Joey Votto; the only players with a higher walk rate in that time frame are Votto, Aaron Judge, Jose Bautista, and Juan Soto.
There is a question as to which Carlos Santana the Royals are receiving. Twenty-nineteen was the best year of Santana’s career. He accrued 4.4 fWAR while posting or tying career-best marks in all three slash categories, home runs, and even his baserunning value. Twenty-twenty was a different story. Santana had the worst year of his career as he accumulated a wRC+ of only 95, and 0.3 fWAR. He hit below the Mendoza for the first time in his career (.199) but still managed to get on base at a .349 clip. This left something to be desired for the Tribe first baseman. I will note that his numbers from 2020 are lower than what the metrics suggest he “deserved”.
As an acquisition, he makes sense for a Royals team that wants some production now without a long-term commitment. Splitting the difference between 2020 and 2019 results in the same old Carlos Santnana: a 2-3 WAR player with passable defense. There’s nothing wrong with a capable starter for a fair price on a team that is rebuilding. Depending on the speed of the Royal’s resurgence, Santana might be able to serve as a crucial veteran presence on a young and inexperienced team in 2022. It is also worth noting that in 74 career games Santana is slashing .327/.449/.628 in Kansas City.
As a loss, it unfortunately makes sense for the Indians, too. A slew of young players are poised to crack the starting lineup full-time, and first base is a potential landing spot for no fewer than four of them. Whether the Indians play Bobby Bradley, Jake Bauers, Nolan Jones, or Josh Naylor at first, they now have the roster flexibility to give each of them an opportunity to earn their keep. Maybe more importantly the Indians need to find out whether Bradley or Bauers are major-league-caliber players sooner rather than later.
Not everyone is happy.
My favorite team is trash for not keeping Santana if this is all it took. https://t.co/56nhRtO5h6— Jason Lukehart (@JasonLukehart) December 8, 2020
Ah, lovely, Carlos Santana will be making frequent visits to Cleveland this season, after all https://t.co/tMskTCljSQ— Casey Drottar (@CDrottar19) December 8, 2020
Carlos Santana leaves again. Sigh.— Monte the Color Man (@Monte_Colorman) December 8, 2020
It’d be fitting for him to walk to KC.
Personally, I don’t have any hard feelings about this one. I love Carlos Santana as a player and I will miss him dearly. His time in Cleveland really does feel like it is coming to a close now, though. I cherish his contributions and wish him the best, but also hope that Bradley or Bauers or Naylor or somebody hits fifty bombs from the corner next year.
I can dream.