CARLOS SANTANA, FIRST BASEMAN
|Born: April 8, 1986
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2004, Los Angeles Dodgers
How Acquired: Free agent signing
Country: Dominican Republic
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|The Dodgers signed Santana out of the Dominican as an athletic third baseman whom they thought might be able to convert to catcher. He made the move in his third pro season and stayed there through his third full season in the majors. After that, he shifted to first. StatCast sees him as average or a little above at first. He had decent speed back in the day, but now rates in the bottom 15% or so. At the plate, Santana has always put up very high walk totals. He generally hasn’t hit for average despite the fact that he doesn’t strike out excessively. That probably results in part from a high pop-up rate and in part from his lack of speed; he’s generally had low BABIPs, especially in the last few years. A switch hitter, Santana over his career has hit LHPs better than RHPs, but not dramatically so. The Pirates signed Santana to a $6.725 contract for 2023.
Santana hit well in his debut in rookie ball at age 17. It was especially impressive that he had twice as many walks as strikeouts. The Dodgers played him mainly at third, but he got into a few games at second and catcher, and in left.
Santana moved up to advanced rookie ball and had little trouble there, then held his own when the Dodgers moved him up to High A. He played mostly in the outfield corners before the promotion, then played third a lot after. Baseball America ranked him 23rd in the LA system after the season.
In Low A, the Dodgers employed Santana mainly behind the plate and he did well there, throwing out 38% of opposing base stealers. His hitting tailed off quite a bit, although he maintained strong plate discipline. BA ranked him 25th after the season.
LA moved Santana up to High A and he had a huge season. In late July, the Dodgers traded Santana to Cleveland and he continued to hammer the ball. He continued to play mostly behind the plate and he threw out 27%. BA rated him the best prospect in the Cleveland system and the team added him to the 40-man roster.
Cleveland kept Santana in AA for the whole season and he had another strong year. He played catcher exclusively. BA once again put him at the top of the Cleveland system.
In AAA, Santana continued to hammer the ball. That got him a callup in June and he stayed in the majors after that, although he missed the last two months due to a left knee sprain. He adapted quickly to the majors, walking more than he struck out. He played exclusively behind the plate at both levels.
Santana spent the entire season in the majors, showing good power and a lot of patience. He caught the majority of the time but also played a lot at first.
Early in the season, Santana signed a five-year deal with Cleveland, with a team option for 2017. He went on to have a slightly disappointing season. He spent most of his time behind the plate.
Santana hit about the same as the previous year, except he upped his power. He spent the majority of his time behind the plate, but also played a lot at first and as DH.
Santana continued to hit about the same, except with a little less power. He spent little time catching, instead playing mostly at first.
Santana’s hitting tailed off a little bit more, again maybe in the power area. Cleveland moved him to first full time.
Splitting his time between first base and DH, Santana reached a career high in home runs and made the All-Star team for the only time in his career.
Santana fell off a little in home runs, but otherwise hit exactly the same as the year before. After the season, he became a free agent and signed a three-year, $60M contract with the Phillies, with a team option for 2021.
Santana’s hitting fell off some, although he continued to draw walks at a prodigous rate. After the season, the Phillies sent Santana to Seattle. Ten days later, the Mariners sent him on to Cleveland in a three-team trade.
With the Indians, Santana put up career highs in OPS (.911), runs (110) and RBIs (93).
In the pandemic season, Santana fell off a cliff, losing over 200 points off his OPS. Only a high walk total kept him anywhere close to respectable. After the season, Cleveland declined Santana’s 2021 option, making him a free agent. He signed a two-year deal with the Royals worth $17.5M.
Santana had about the same season with Kansas City, with a lower walk rate. At this point, he was still an everyday first baseman.
Things continued along the same lines, with a higher walk rate and less over-the-fence power. In late June, the Royals traded Santana to Seattle. His power bounced back a little, but overall his hitting declined. He split his time between first and DH with both teams.
There seems to be some supposition that the Pirates will platoon Santana with Ji-Man Choi at first base. Santana’s salary of $6.725 is unremarkable, except for the Pirates, to whom it’s an enormous amount of money. It’s extremely unlikely that they’ll want to pay Santana that much to sit on the bench for most of his tenure. Most likely, he and Choi will split first base and DH duties while playing most of the time.
|Signing Bonus: $70,000
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 6/11/2010
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2023
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2008
Options Remaining: N/A
MLB Service Time: 12.115
|August 13, 2004: Signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as an international free agent.
July 26, 2008: Traded by the Los Angeles Dodgers with Jon Meloan to the Cleveland Indians for Casey Blake and cash.
November 20, 2008: Contract purchased by the Cleveland Indians.
November 2, 2017: Became a free agent.
December 20, 2017: Signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies.
December 3, 2018: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with J.P. Crawford to the Seattle Mariners for Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio and James Pazos.
December 13, 2018: Traded by the Seattle Mariners with cash to the Cleveland Indians as part of a three-team deal for Edwin Encarnacion and a competitive balance pick, with Jake Bauers going from the Tampa Bay Rays to Cleveland, Yandy Diaz and Cole Sulser from Cleveland to Tampa Bay, and cash from Tampa Bay to Seattle.
October 30, 2020: Became a free agent.
December 8, 2020: Signed as a free agent by the Kansas City Royals.
June 27, 2022: Traded by the Kansas City Royals with cash to the Seattle Mariners for Wyatt Mills and William Fleming.
November 6, 2022: Became a free agent.
November 29, 2022: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.