The Cleveland Indians have made their acquisition of Domingo Santana official. The towering righty will seek to provide the Tribe with a power surge.
Santana’s deal is for $1.5 million this season with a club option worth $5 million in 2021. To make room on the 40-man roster, utility man Andrew Velazquez was designated for assignment.
Santana’s deal with the Indians is as low-risk as they come; he’s a solid bet to flirt with a home run total in the 25-30 range if he gets enough plate appearances. If he’s able to add any value beyond that by getting on base and coming through with runners on in front of him, the price tag on his 2021 option could wind up being a bargain (or at least fair market value).
And if he fizzles or proves to be one-dimensional, the Indians are essentially paying less than $2 million for a couple dozen home runs in 2020. At least some of those will directly result in games being won.
Regarding the corresponding roster move, it’s at least somewhat peculiar that the Indians wouldn’t just place Tyler Naquin on the 60-day IL instead of DFA’ing Velazquez. Naquin tore his ACL at the end of August, which would seemingly set the timeline for his return at least two months into the regular season.
Unless the Indians are extremely optimistic he’s in line to defy the odds and return earlier, the much easier roster decision would have been to designate him for a long-term recovery and avoid potentially losing another player altogether.
Velazquez may not carry worlds of upside in his profile, but heaven knows the Indians could use the infield depth in the event things go awry health-wise. Their current stable of backup infielders includes Yu Chang, Christian Arroyo, and Mike Freeman.
Time will tell how Santana is integrated into the Indians’ game plan, but it stands to reason he’ll serve primarily as the designated hitter and bat somewhere in the middle-third of Cleveland’s lineup. There are worse guys to occupy the six-hole than a player who could launch upwards of 30 baseballs into the left field bleachers.