It’s been a relatively quiet offseason so far, as the baseball world holds its breath to see where Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton ends up. And while it’s been expected that the Phillies won’t make any major moves this winter, an interesting name has been making the rounds – Carlos Santana.
The former Cleveland Indian is a free agent, and it’s been rumored that the Phillies and Boston Red Sox are both interested in the switch-hitting slugger. Santana has spent his first eight years with Cleveland, primarily at first base after sustaining an injury while catching.
So why are the Phillies taking a look at Santana when the future first baseman is already on the roster in Rhys Hoskins? General manager Matt Klentak has already said he will keep an open mind about all aspects of the team as he aims to get the Phillies closer to contention in 2018. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of making this move.
- Santana brings some pop to the lineup. He has 174 career home runs, hitting 23 last year and 34 the year before. His presence in the batting order will help to provide some protection for Hoskins which is something that the other guys on the roster can’t do. That’s not to take anything away from Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams, but they don’t strike fear into opposing pitchers at this point in their careers. In a year or two, they might. But right now, Santana gives Hoskins his best pitches to hit.
- Santana has had success, helping the Indians come within one game of winning the World Series in 2016. Something this group needs is someone who knows how to manage the ups and downs of a 162-game regular season, and what it takes to make it to baseball’s biggest stage. Santana has been a big part of the Indians’ success the past couple of seasons, and he can pass that knowledge down.
- He would give the Phillies a lot of flexibility. First, even though most of his experience is at first base, Santana is able to play in the outfield as well. This move also gives the Phillies some trade chips. They could try and trade Altherr or Williams for a starting pitcher and move Hoskins to the outfield.
- The above trade option! Yes, the Phillies desperately need starting pitching help. They have an offense that makes them contenders and a starting rotation that makes them pretenders. But I think it would be a mistake to trade either Altherr or Williams. Both are young, and showed a lot of promise last season. Together with Odubel Herrera, they make up a solid starting outfield. If one of them goes, Hoskins moves to left field on a permanent basis. This really diminishes the defensive capabilities of the outfield. Plus, I’m not a fan of switching positions like the Phillies tend to do. Let Hoskins be the full-time first baseman. His defense and offense will thank you.
- Santana will turn 32 during the beginning of next season. I don’t see the long-term benefit of signing him to a multi-year deal. He made $12 million last season. Expect him to sign a deal that pays at least that, most likely more, over four or five years. By the time that contract is over, Santana will be past his prime, and the Phillies could be saddled with another albatross of a contract.
- A big free agent class is looming after the 2018 season. Players like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, and David Price are all slated to hit the open market a year from now. The Phillies could be an enticing option for one of them, especially if they build on the success they had at the end of last season. It would make sense for the Phillies to have as much money as possible available to throw their way.
It’s always interesting to hear what names are associated with certain ball clubs as the Hot Stove gets under way. You want the front office exploring every possibility and I hope that’s all that is going on here; there is no urgent need for a player like Santana. It’s time for the Phillies to move on.
Photo: Keith Allison (via Flickr)