Posted on December 15, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the top free agent hitters in baseball this offseason has come off the board, and it’s Carlos Santana. The Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly landed Santana on a three-year deal worth $60 million. Santana’s contract also comes with a $17.5 million team option for the 2021 season. The club has yet to formally announce the signing because the deal is pending a physical.
Santana was considered one of the top offensive players on the open market this winter. It’s a little surprising to see him sign with a team before players like J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer set the market. However, a contract worth $20 million per season is more than most expected Santana to get at the start of the offseason.
By signing with the Phillies, Santana leaves the Cleveland Indians after eight seasons with the club. During his time in Cleveland, Santana became one of the most popular players on the Indians and one of the most consistent run producers in the game. He took his game to another level the past two seasons, helping the Indians win back-to-back AL Central titles and reach the World Series in 2016. As a parting gift, the Indians will receive an extra draft pick just after the first round because they made Santana a qualifying offer.
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As for the Phillies, they set out this offseason to make a big splash. It’s safe to say that have done that by signing Santana. Philadelphia hasn’t had a winning record since 2011, the last time they made the playoffs. They have finished last in the NL East in three of the last four seasons. However, the club finally appears close to the end of the rebuilding process. Adding Santana is a sign that they are ready to compete again.
Of course, the addition of Santana does create an interesting roster dilemma for the Phillies. Santana is a strong defensive first baseman and a Gold Glove finalist this past season. While he can play the outfield, the Phillies no doubt prefer him at first base. As a result, the Phillies will have to find a new home for both Rhys Hoskins and Tommy Joseph.
After the way Hoskins exploded offensively late last season, the Phillies will likely move him to left field. Hoskins struggled defensively in the outfield last year. But he’s new to the position and should be able to make up for a few defensive mistakes if he continues to hit for power the way he did last August and September.
Of course, Hoskins playing left field creates a logjam there as well. Before Santana, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams were penciled in as Philadelphia’s corner outfielders next season. Altherr finally enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 while Williams impressed in his first big league action. The Phillies also have outfielders in Dylan Cozens and Roman Quinn who could factor into the outfield in 2018.
At this point, both Joseph and either Altherr or Williams could end up being traded this offseason. Before signing Santana, the Phillies traded Freddy Galvis to the Padres to address an overcrowded infield. They may soon be doing the same to address an overcrowded outfield. The fact that the Phillies can make such trades is a good indication of the amount of talent they have in their organization.
Of course, there’s no doubting the talent they’ve added by signing Santana. With Santana serving as the focal point of an otherwise young team, Philadelphia’s lineup takes on a whole new look. Adding Santana is a strong indication that the Phillies believe they will soon return to being a competitive team.