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News and Notes: Welcome to the Guardians, Deyvison De Los Santos

News and Notes for Thursday, December 7th, 2023

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Arkansas Travelers v Amarillo Sod Poodles Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

MLB’s Winter Meetings have concluded, and while the Guardians did not swing any trades, they did draft Deyvison De Los Santos, right-handed first baseman/third baseman from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft.

In three years of professional baseball, De Los Santos has a 108 wRC+, 26.2/6.6 K/BB, an ISO of .187 with 50 homers, and is still only 20 years old. He was the only real prospect available in the draft by the estimation of many folks. De Los Santos is projected for an 81 wRC+ as a 20 year old in the MLB by Steamer next year, which is pretty good, really. Several folks have noted that he made a swing change mid year in 2023 which produced some dramatic improvement:

FanGraphs gives his raw power a 70 grade. Eric Longehagen and Tess Taruskin provided a concise scouting report on De Los Santos after the draft:

This was the sexiest pick in the entire draft because De Los Santos has plus-plus raw power, right now, at age 20. His selectivity at the plate and infield defense have ranged from “immature” to “god awful,” and the former was a big part of why he had a below-average all-around offensive season at Double-A Amarillo despite hitting 20 bombs. Both were justifiable reasons for Arizona to leave him unprotected. De Los Santos is kind of a freak, comparing physically to former NFL running back Michael Turner more than he does anyone else in baseball. He does not get cheated and swings as hard as he can at every opportunity. His slider recognition is awful and he chased them at a 49% clip in 2023, per Synergy.

DDLS’s defensive issues are mostly to do with a lack of arm accuracy. He looked better on defense late in 2023 and actually made some slick plays at both first and third late in the season. With José Ramírez entrenched at third base in Cleveland, a 1B/DH role seems to be in line for Deyvison. The Guardians desperately need impact power like this in their lineup, so badly in fact that I think De Los Santos has as good a chance to stick on this roster as any because of how devoid of pop Cleveland’s non-Ramírez and Naylor (Josh and Bo) sticks have been. He has a chance to hit 30 or more bombs at peak regardless of whether he learns how to identify spin, and De Los Santos will be a middle-of-the-order force if he can learn to be more selective.

Sexy is good. 30-homer peak is good. So, I just have a couple remaining questions:

1. Kyle Manzardo is going to debut in 2024, sooner or later. If De Los Santos is part of the longterm plans, how do Josh Naylor, Kyle Manzardo and De Los Santos fit on the roster? Perhaps the team believes Naylor can re-transition to the outfield?

2. With the AL Central certainly a winnable proposition, is De Los Santos ready to contribute to a team pursuing a playoff berth? Can the team carry a developmental project for an entire season simply because of the longterm power upside? Reminder that De Los Santos must be on the 26-man roster all season or returned to the Diamondbacks (if he would unfortunately get hurt, there are some work-arounds), unless Cleveland completes a trade with Arizona to get De Los Santos’s full rights.

De Los Santos, oddly, had a .578 OPS against left-handed pitching last season, but that may very well be a small sample size. He had .848 and .813 OPS’s in 2022 and 2021 against LHP.

All in all, it’s best not to get too worked up about this because the Guardians can always give him a look in Spring Training and, if they decide he’s not ready/a good roster fit, return him to Arizona.

Zack Meisel of the Athletic had the inside story on the lottery selection of the Guardians as the #1 pick.

Kiley McDaniel of ESPN wrote a quick mock draft and projected J.J. Wetherholt of West Virginia University to the Guardians, with Nick Kurtz of Wake Forest and Travis Bazzana of Oregon State as the other two of the three players he believes to be the clear top prospects. Jeff Ellis of Locked on Guardians did a mock draft where he projected Bazzana to the Guardians. There will be many more of these to come. Chris Antonetti talked about the importance of Cleveland’s first #1 pick:

The Angels are rumored to be in pursuit of Shane Bieber among other starting pitchers. A Brandon Drury and Caden Dana, AA Starting Pitcher line up well in terms of value, but seems like the goal should be to swing an overpay and include a decent prospect with Bieber to get Taylor Ward. We won’t get clarity on this until the Angels know if they sign Ohtani I’m sure. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi says Ohtani will make his decision this weekend.

Mike Chernoff also spoke to the media, reminding them that the team wants to improve the offense but values the oft-trade-rumored Shane Bieber a lot:

In case you missed it, you should definitely watch Guardians’ manager Stephen Vogt’s press conference from the Winter Meetings. He’s just a gem:

The Guardians caused some brief excitement with this tweet, but it’s simply a Def Leppard concert:

The Yankees traded for Juan Soto from the San Diego Padres:

I hate the Yankees, but they did have an amazing tweet slamming Jon Heyman’s “Arson Judge appears headed to the Giants” tweet from last year:

The Cincinnati Reds signed Jeimer Candelario:

The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Eduardo Rodriguez and I’m mainly glad that he won’t be pitching for an American League team, especially an American League Central team:

Daniel Espino is throwing a baseball again.