The Indians are reportedly closing in on a major league agreement with free-agent outfielder Domingo Santana, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com relays. An announcement could take place sometime next week, but the deal’s pending a physical, according to Hoynes.
The Indians are in clear need of outfield help, but whether Santana will prove to be the solution is anyone’s guess. However, as recently as 2017 – a season he spent with the Brewers – Santana appeared to be a budding star. He slashed .278/.371/.505 with 30 home runs and 3.3 fWAR in 607 trips to the plate that year. Santana struggled the next season, though, and then the Brewers traded him to the Mariners in December 2018.
While Santana looked like an interesting pickup for rebuilding Seattle, he didn’t end up producing much in an M’s uniform. Although Santana’s season began well, a second-half elbow injury helped torpedo his numbers and limit him to an uninspiring .253/.329/.441 line with 21 homers in 507 PA. Worsening matters, Santana ranked as one of the game’s poorest outfielders, finishing with a minus-17 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-16.1 Ultimate Zone Rating. His combination of so-so offense and disastrous defense held him to a replacement-level WAR output.
To Santana’s credit, he was a good defender as recently as 2018 (plus-6 DRS, plus-2.7 UZR). He’s also still just 27, and the Indians or any other team that signs Santana will be able to control him via arbitration through 2021. The Mariners could have done the same, but they elected to non-tender Santana in lieu of paying him a $4.4MM salary this year.
Should Santana join the Indians, he’d make for yet another flawed corner outfield possibility for the team. Aside from Jordan Luplow, whose solid production may have flown under the radar in 2019, there’s little in the way of clear answers for the club there. Franmil Reyes (perhaps like Santana) is probably better off as a designated hitter; Jake Bauers and Greg Allen offered subpar production last year; Tyler Naquin suffered a torn ACL in August and will miss some portion of 2020; and Bradley Zimmer barely played last season as a result of shoulder troubles.