Phillies Add Carlos Santana, Strange Fit

Well, this is unexpected.

I’ve argued all winter that Santana was going to do a lot better than the 3/$45M the crowd projected for him, and put him at #1 on my Free Agent Bargains post, as I thought the expectations of what he would sign for were just too low. And obviously the Phillies agreed, pushing up to the same deal the Indians gave Edwin Encarnacion last winter. 3/$60M is a perfectly fair price for what Santana is, and might still actually be a good deal.

But there’s no way around this; the fit in Philly is weird and doesn’t really make sense. Santana is a short-term value, a guy who can help a team win right now, but probably won’t age extremely well. We currently have the Phillies projected for 74 wins. Santana doesn’t push them into playoff position.

And given that they already have Rhys Hoskins at first base and a crowded outfield, it’s not actually clear where Santana is going to play, or if the redistribution of talent to get him in their line-up will be a significant improvement. They could stick Santana at third, I guess, but he was horrible there, and Cleveland pulling the plug on that experiment should be a red flag if that’s the plan.

If it’s not the plan, then Hoskins is probably headed back to the outfield, a position they didn’t think he could play last year, which is why he spent four months in Triple-A destroying minor league pitching. And while he might be better than expected out there, he’s probably not going to be good, and he’d displace either Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams, both of whom look somewhat interesting.

So, yeah, I don’t know. Carlos Santana is good. This price is fine, and maybe even a bargain. Every contender with an opening at first base should have been in on this. The Phillies aren’t a contender and didn’t have a need at first base, so now this is going to force other things to happen, and unless those other things are turning one of their OFs into a super valuable pitcher, I’m not sure this actually makes them much better.

It’s impossible to judge this until we know the plan. But that we don’t know the plan makes this a little bit weird right now.





Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

54 Comments
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tz
4 years ago

Hopefully, this doesn’t lead my Red Sox to do a knee-jerk Eric Hosmer signing for whatever Boras is claiming he’s worth.

schmenkman
4 years ago
Reply to  tz

Do the Red Sox usually care who the Phillies sign?

ashlandateam
4 years ago
Reply to  schmenkman

No, but this eliminates Boston’s options.

schmenkman
4 years ago
Reply to  ashlandateam

Well that makes more sense than what I said.

Ozzie Albies
4 years ago
Reply to  schmenkman

Comment of the year.

ItsPoPtime
4 years ago
Reply to  tz

I couldn’t agree more. Paying the guy 30 mil a year for below average defense hitting 275 with his 40 2b and 25 hr. Basically just great defense away from a career year from mitch moreland

Jamesmember
4 years ago
Reply to  ItsPoPtime

well, $20M/year

Lucas Maloney
4 years ago
Reply to  James

I think he’s talking about Hosmer, not Santana – Unless you were as well – but I think he’s going to make more than $20m/year…

Jamesmember
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucas Maloney

I think you are right, that would make more sense. I am having trouble writing Hosmer and $30m/Year.

pedeysRSox
4 years ago
Reply to  ItsPoPtime

A few things: 1.) He is only $20 mil per year plus a buyout on the club option. 2.) He is also a great defender at 1st base (10 drs, 4.7 uzr/150) vs 10 drs and 5.8 uzr/150 for moreland. 3.) He is better at taking walks 15.2% (Santana) vs 8% (Moreland). 4.) He also strikes out less (17% for Santana vs 21.2% for Moreland). 5.) He is also a year younger than Moreland.

LHPSU
4 years ago
Reply to  pedeysRSox

Point 5 is the most shocking thing I’ve read this year.

Johnston
4 years ago
Reply to  pedeysRSox

Hosmer is a free agent landmine patiently waiting to go off on whatever team is dumb enough to sign him.