Domingo Santana has reportedly signed with the Cleveland Indians. Here is a quick look into what he brings, and how he might fit in with the roster.
The Cleveland Indians have yet to confirm it, but two sources, including Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes, have reported that Domingo Santana is set to sign with the Tribe. The 27-year-old, right-handed outfielder has spent parts of six seasons with the Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, and Seattle Mariners.
Seattle non-tendered Santana in December, and he has been waiting on a job offer ever since. The deal he and the Indians have reportedly agreed upon is somewhere in the $1 million range. If he is indeed headed to Cleveland, he represents an extremely low-risk acquisition with the potential to reward the club significantly.
Santana’s best season was in 2017, when he clubbed 30 home runs and slashed .278/.371/.505 in 607 plate appearances with the Brewers. None of his other campaigns have quite lived up to that level of production, but perhaps a stint in the middle of Cleveland’s top-heavy lineup provides Santana the spark he needs to recapture his form from three seasons ago.
The scouting report on Santana is not without its drawbacks, however. For starters, the absolute last reason for signing him is his defensive ability. Santana provides negative defensive value in both corner outfield spots, which would seem to indicate that he’s destined to be Cleveland’s designated hitter.
Such a move would then presumably bump Franmil Reyes into the outfield on a regular basis, a peculiar course of action in its own right.
Reyes’ gargantuan frame–much like Santana’s–practically shouts “full-time DH,” and he’s not the most fleet of foot. It’s at least worth wondering as to the thought process behind acquiring a player that all but guarantees Reyes will now have to patrol the outfield grass every day.
If nothing else, it’s clear that offense is the primary motivating factor in adding Santana. On that note, it’s worth taking into account that his career strikeout rate is 32%.
Assuming the first four hitters in Cleveland’s lineup are Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Santana, and one of Cesar Hernandez or Oscar Mercado, that leaves a multitude of strikeout-prone bats to round out the bottom half.
Reyes and Roberto Perez both posted strikeout rates north of 28% in 2019, and Jake Bauers wasn’t far behind at 27.2%. In terms of staggering these tendencies throughout the lineup to avoid having multiple K candidates in a row, Terry Francona will have his work cut out for him.
Regardless of how it pans out, this should be viewed as a sound investment on the part of the Indians if and when it is made official. Santana might regain his 2017 form, and he might not. Either way, he’s not breaking the bank.