The Pittsburgh Pirates made an interesting addition to their offense on Friday.
First baseman Carlos Santana and the Pittsburgh Pirates are in agreement on a one-year, $6.7 million contract, pending physical, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN. News, free and unlocked, at ESPN: https://t.co/Wm8Qoyin0S
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 26, 2022
Santana, 36, was a consistently good-to-great hitter for Cleveland from 2010-2019. In that 2019 season, he was selected to the American League All-Star team. He had a career-best OPS of .911 in that 2019 season, to go with an on-base percentage of .397 that ranked eighth in the majors.
Over the last three seasons, Santana’s production has fallen off, but 2022 was his best of the three years. Splitting time with the Kansas City Royals and Seattle Mariners, the switch-hitting Santana put together a .202/.316/.376 slash line with 19 home runs and a 102 wRC+ over 506 plate appearances.
There’s also an area for optimism regarding Santana’s offensive game. As Passan notes, “nobody was shifted at a higher percentage than Santana,” and the shift will no longer exist in the 2023 MLB season.
Further, nobody was shifted a higher percentage last year than Santana, who saw altered defense in 356 of his 362 left-handed batting appearances. With the ban of the shift coming in 2023, the switch-hitting Santana could see a significant benefit.
So, it’s possible that Santana could see an uptick in batting average, which would certainly be helpful for a hitter that has topped out at .214 over the last three seasons (compared to .281 in 2019).
Santana is still an above-average defensive first baseman (valued at 4 defensive runs saved and 3 outs above average in 2022), and he’ll surely serve as a frequent designated hitter for Pittsburgh as well.
With just a $6.7 million commitment over one year, this is a worthwhile move for a rebuilding Pittsburgh squad. Santana adds a solid blend of contact, on-base skills, and power to fit anywhere in the lineup for the Pirates. And, assuming the Pirates aren’t contenders, Santana should be able to get Pittsburgh a decent prospect back at the trade deadline.