Danny Santana adds another versatile option to the Red Sox roster
The Boston Red Sox were busy overhauling their roster this offseason but even with spring training well under way, they aren’t done yet. According to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams, the Red Sox have signed the versatile Danny Santana to a minor league deal with an invitation to camp.
Santana has experience fielding every position on the field outside of pitcher and catcher. It’s clear that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom covets versatile players considering the team added Kiki Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez this offseason.
Center field and shortstop are where Santana has appeared most at the major league level. The Red Sox are set at shortstop unless the nagging sore shoulder that has delayed the spring debut of Xander Bogaerts is worse than the team is letting on.
Center field is more of a question mark, especially now that Jackie Bradley Jr. officially isn’t coming back. Alex Verdugo is expected to be the primary center fielder but the Red Sox also value his presence in Fenway Park’s notoriously challenging right field. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have another viable center fielder on board to allow Verdugo to remain in right field, at least for home games.
Santana is below average with -10 defensive runs saved at the position in 151 career appearances in center field but he could adequately fill in on a part time basis. He can also cover second base to allow Hernandez to move to center.
2019 was a breakout season for Santana when he hit .283 with a .857 OPS, 28 home runs, 81 RBI, and 21 steals for the Texas Rangers. Those results are a massive outlier from his previous track record and he took a step back last season by hitting a meager .145/.238/.273 in 15 games.
More from Red Sox News
- Red Sox Nation deserves far more from Fenway Sports Group
- Bizarre trade deadline comes back to haunt Red Sox after Nathan Eovaldi departure
- Red Sox’ Moneyball-style offseason continues with Corey Kluber contract
- Rich Hill’s Red Sox departure puts him within striking distance of unique MLB record
- Red Sox offseason takes another nasty hit with Nathan Eovaldi departure
Santana finished with a wRC+ below 60 in three of the last four years, meaning in those seasons he was more than 40 percent worse than league-average. The exception was his 111 wRC+ in 2019. Was that year a fluke or was it a true breakout that has been tainted by a small sample from last year’s unprecedented circumstances? It’s worth a flier to find out with a cheap minor league deal.
The Red Sox already face a roster crunch with Marwin Gonzalez, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Arauz, Yairo Munoz and Christian Arroyo competing for a limited number of bench spots. They all provide some level of versatility so the addition of Santana adds to the list of utility options they already have a surplus of.
Those bench options are heavy on right-handed bats though. Arauz and Gonzalez are switch-hitters but the former fares better against lefties while the latter’s platoon splits are neutral. Santana is a switch-hitter who hits better against right-handed pitching, batting .266 with a .727 OPS from the left side in his career.
His late arrival to camp puts Santana behind the competition, making him a long shot for the Opening Day roster. However, there’s little risk in stashing him at the Triple-A level on a minor league deal where he can earn his way back to the big leagues if a spot opens up. His ability to fill in at almost any position could give him an edge when the Red Sox inevitably dip into their minor league system for mid-season replacements.
The Santana signing is another savvy move by Bloom with the potential to pay off significantly if he regains his 2019 form and does no harm if he falters and they have to cut bait.