Pirates sign Carlos Santana to one-year deal, shoring up first base options, per report


The Pittsburgh Pirates signed the largest free agent contract in six years. The Pirates signed veteran first baseman Carlos Santana to a one-year, $6.7 million contract. reports ESPN. The team has not yet announced the signing.

Santana, who turned 37 in April, split 2022 between the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Mariners and hit .202/.316/.376 with 19 home runs. The average is obviously low, but the overall result is essentially the league average adjusted for ballpark and league scoring conditions. At the very least, Santana will be a constant source of home runs and walks for Pittsburgh.

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Carlos Santana

SEA • DH • #41

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The Pirates lost 100 games in 2022 and are unlikely to struggle in 2023, so Santana serves three purposes. Firstly, he has long been considered a great club guy who will mentor young players. This is important for the young Pirates team. Second, he is a potential trading chip at the deadline. And thirdly, it brings a certain level of competence and respectability to the organization.

Here’s what you need to know about the Pirates and Santana after their one-year deal.

Pirates really spent money

As noted, Santana became the largest free agent signed by Pittsburgh in nearly six years. The last time they gave a free agent more than Santana’s $6.7 million was in December 2016, when they signed pitcher Daniel Hudson to a two-year, $11 million contract and right Ivan Nova to a three-year, $26 million contract. a week.

Only three times between signing Hudson/Nova and signing Santana did the Pirates guarantee a free agent even $3 million:

  • C Roberto Perez: 1 year and $5 million (November 2021)
  • 1B Yoshitomo Tsutsugo: 1 year and $4 million (November 2021)
  • 3B Jung Ho Kang: 1 year and $3 million (November 2018)

Kang re-signed with the Pirates after the club rejected his $5.5 million option and paid him a $250,000 buyout. It’s all the same. Just three contracts worth over $3 million in almost six years. It’s hard to believe that a major league franchise behaved this way.

Since 2017, Pittsburgh has been ranked no more than 27th in the payroll every year. FanGraphs estimates the current payroll in 2023 at $54.1 million.. That includes Santana and arbitrage predictions, and still less than a $55.7 million opening day salary in 2022. There’s no reason the Pirates shouldn’t continue to spend this winter with the catcher and the veteran pitch-eater as potential targets.

First base was a wasteland in 2022

In 2022, the Pirates started at first base with nine different players, including three players at least 17 times each, and collectively hit .206/.264/.337 in 636 games. It’s a pity. For reference, the average first baseman hit .251/.324/.422 last season. It’s no coincidence that Pittsburgh’s three notable moves this offseason feature first basemen:

  • Signed with Carlos Santana to a one-year, $6.7 million contract.
  • Acquired by Ji-Man Choi of the Tampa Bay Rays petty trade.
  • Demanded Levin Diaz to waive the Miami Marlins.

The bar at first base has been set to the floor and the Pirates will be able to put Choi and Santana into the all-round DH lineup. Diaz may not make it through the off-season (he has no minor league options and must pass a waiver to move to Triple-A), but he’s on the roster now and was a well-respected prospect not too long ago. He is an option.

With Choi and Santana, Pittsburgh’s top roster looks perfectly competitive. This five will not bring you the World Series, but it will not make life easier for the other team either:

  1. SS Oneil Cruz
  2. CF Brian Reynolds
  3. 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes
  4. 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi
  5. 1B/DH Carlos Santana

Not surprising, but respectable. Reynolds is a bona fide All-Star, Cruz and Hayes are young and promising (especially Cruz), and Choi and Santana are solid veterans. As a result, the situation with Pittsburgh’s first base in 2022 was untenable. It was terribly bad. General manager Ben Cherington addressed this earlier this offseason.

Santana Should Benefit from Anti-Transference Rules

Home shift ends in 2023, even a bit. There must be two infielders in front on each side of second base, and all four infielders must have their feet on the ground when the field is cleared. Teams can still place a quarterback almost directly behind second base to deflect shots to center, but they can no longer switch and stick an infielder into shallow right field.

In 2022, no baseball player has changed more than Santana, especially when a hitter has changed his left winger. Here are the forwards that changed the most last season (minimum 300 plate appearances):

  1. Carlos Santana: 98.3 percent of record appearances had a shift
  2. Cal Raleigh: 96.2 percent
  3. Jose Ramirez: 93.9 percent
  4. Round scent: 93.8 percent
  5. Cole Calhoun: 93.4 percent

On average, left-handed hitters saw a shift in 55.0 percent of their plate appearances. Santana was way above that. The new anti-shift rules are unlikely to turn Santana into a .300 hitter, though I’m sure a few ground balls and low-line drives that were turned into outs by an extra-shifted infielder will now go to hit. Of course, he should see a slight increase in his performance.

Santana could be a trading chip

If Santana comes in and plays poorly, the Pirates will lose $6.7 million. Big deal. Owner Bob Nutting can afford it, and that doesn’t mean Santana’s performance will be the difference between entering the postseason and starting October. But, if Santana plays well, the Pirates will have a viable trading chip to help build their young core and speed up recovery.

To be clear, Santana won’t have much trading value. There are always many types of first base and DH. Supply exceeds demand and this lowers the asking price. Santana himself was traded at the last deadline (Royals for Mariners). Here’s what he dug up:

  • RHP Wyatt Mills (MLB-ready pitcher)
  • RHP William Fleming (2021 11th round pick and Class A lottery ticket)

Similarly, the Pirates traded Daniel Vogelbach to the New York Mets for right hand pitcher Colin Holderman at the deadline, so it looks like a common bet for type DH: an MLB-ready pitcher. If you can get that small minor hand as a second part, great.

I know the pitcher, and the prospect may not sound like a lot of money, but a) it’s better than nothing, and b) you need to build a bullpen somehow. Look at any contender’s roster and you’ll find a pitcher or three who were minor when he was first acquired and then became a stalwart. Turning Santana into a Major League Baseball pitcher on time is a reasonable outcome that will add organizational depth. The Pirates will give themselves another piece of the apple by trying to build a competitive bullpen.

Source: www.cbssports.com