After completing his 8th season with the Cleveland Indians, Carlos Santana is bound to be one of the hottest names on the free agency market this winter, with strong interest coming from the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners. He’s expected to reject the Indians $17.4 million qualifying offer.
Reports in the Boston media suggest that the Red Sox will be in contact with Santana very soon, although they are looking at Logan Morrison as well for the same role. The Angels are another team looking for help at first base and seem to be eyeing both players. The Mariners have specific interest in Santana due to his ability to hit from both sides of the plate, and his defense at first base.
While the Red Sox are eyeing power which Santana probably doesn’t have at a sufficient level, they’d still be happy with his production over the last two seasons. The 31-year old hit 34 homers in 2016 and 23 in 2017, with his batting average at .259 for both seasons, and slugged over .450 in both seasons. His biggest offensive strength is his on-base numbers, a consistent .365 throughout his career, falling below .360 just once since 2012.
Santana is also a terrific defensive player at first base, and was a Gold Glove finalist last season. He started his career at catcher, although he hasn’t played that position since 2014. He spent a short time in 2017 playing in the outfield, but no one is signing him with the intention to put him at right or left field.
Both the Angels and the Red Sox are looking at Santana and Morrison as an option for added power without taking away from the defense. In Seattle, they’re a bit more desperate to sign Santana or any other quality 1B (and Santana is probably the best in this free agency class), due to Yonder Alonso and Danny Valencia hitting free agency.
Two other teams recently linked to Santana although the connection doesn’t seem to make much sense are the NL East’s New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies. Both teams seem to be set for next year with young, talented players at the position, but stranger things have happened.
Santana made his MLB debut in 2010. He has played his entire career for the Indians, hitting 174 home runs so far. He’s also proven to be quite durable, playing in 152 games or more in each of the last five seasons.