Red Sox offered free agent Carlos Santana a 3-year deal

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 30: Carlos Santana
CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 30: Carlos Santana /

The Boston Red Sox reportedly offered Carlos Santana a three-year deal prior to the free agent first baseman signing with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Carlos Santana became the first top-tier free agent domino to fall this offseason. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the first baseman has agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, wiping a potential target off the board for the Boston Red Sox.

While a frustrated fanbase anxious to see the Red Sox make a move will undoubtedly be irked by one of their targets heading elsewhere, it’s not as if Dave Dombrowski didn’t make an effort. According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Red Sox also made a three-year offer to Santana.

The amount Boston was willing to invest is unknown, although we can surmise that it fell short of the $60 million Philadelphia offered.

Santana is a low-average hitter with a good eye for drawing walks that stabilizes his on-base percentage. He has modest power, blasting a career-high 34 home runs in 2016, but typically isn’t the middle-of-the-order thumper the Red Sox desire. However, he would have been a good option to pair with a bigger power threat, a reliable option to get on base in front of the home run hitter. Santana also provides value with his glove, arguably producing better results at first base than Gold Glove winner Eric Hosmer this year.

The contract the Phillies gave Santana seems fair. If he’s a bit overpaid on an average annual basis the concern is offset by a relatively short duration. Hosmer will command about the same per season and almost certainly will get more than three years given that he’ll only be 28 next season while Santana turns 32 in April. Is a 3-year, $60 million deal for Santana a better value than 5-years, $100 million for Hosmer?

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It’s a bit surprising that Boston didn’t put up more of a fight to find out given that Santana is by far the best alternative on the market to Hosmer. Either Dombrowski is comfortable with other backup plans or he’s all in on Hosmer. The latter could be a dangerous game considering Hosmer is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, who is notorious for getting teams to overpay.

The former Kansas City Royals first baseman isn’t the home run threat Boston needs either but he’d pair well with J.D. Martinez if the Red Sox can land him as a designated hitter. Rumors have circulated that Dombrowski covets both. It’s debatable how feasible that would be, yet it would be much easier to squeeze both of them on the roster than it would be to sign Hosmer and Santana. Both play the same position and offer too much defensive value to be stuck in a DH role. It was one or the other and the Phillies have made the decision easy by taking an option away.

The Santana signing may trigger a flurry of activity on a free agent market that has been slow to develop. His contract will help set the market for the position, making it easier for teams to value a comparable player like Hosmer.

Does one less available option put more pressure on the Red Sox to overpay Hosmer? Perhaps, although there weren’t a ton of teams with openings at first base and money to spend to begin with and now there will be one less suitor to compete with.

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Both sides will try to convince the other of which way that scale slides. Thus the staredown between Dombrowski and Boras continues.