The Red Sox should trade for Carlos Santana at the deadline
The rumor mill is heating up as the trade deadline approaches. While the Boston Red Sox have been linked to many of the top players potentially available on the market, one name being floated stands out as an ideal target – Kansas City Royals first baseman Carlos Santana.
Eno Sarris of The Athletic recently published a list of the trades he believes contenders should make before this week’s deadline and Santana was one of the players he projected to land in Boston.
It’s clear why first base should be a priority for this team to address at the trade deadline. Red Sox first basemen rank 24th in the majors with a .367 slugging percentage, 29th with a .202 batting average and dead-last with a .244 on-base percentage.
Bobby Dalbec has been the main culprit and the rookie has recently fallen out of favor with his inability to make contact failing to offset his impressive raw power. His staggering 37.4 K% is the worst in the majors among players with 220+ plate appearances and he’s in the bottom-10 in that sample at drawing walks with a minuscule 4.3 BB%. Dalbec owns a 73 wRC+ this season, which means he’s 27 percent worse than league average at the plate.
Enter Santana, the antithesis of Dalbec in terms of plate discipline. Santana will never find himself in the batting title race but his keen batting eye always leads to him finding a way to get on base. He owns a .366 OBP for his career and his current .353 OBP stands nearly 100 points higher than Dalbec’s. Santana is eighth among qualified major league hitters with a 14.7 BB% and he rarely strikes out, producing a 15.4 K% that sits just outside the 20-best rates in the majors.
Dalbec is known for his power but his meager .397 SLG doesn’t show it. Santana easily has him beat with a .414 SLG and 17 home runs compared to Dalbec’s 10.
Anthony Rizzo is the flashier name but his offensive production this season (.248/.346/.441) is only marginally better than Santana’s. He doesn’t have Rizzo’s collection of Gold Glove awards but Santana was among the league leaders at his position with six defensive runs saved last season and he’s been solid in the field this year.
Rizzo has the superior track record and would be a fantastic upgrade but the current version of the Cubs fist baseman isn’t much better than Santana. The three-time All-Star would cost more though.
Santana is owed the prorated remainder of his $7 million salary this season and is on the books for a reasonable $10.5 million next year. Chaim Bloom has a tendency to deal for players with at least one more year of control. The remainder of RIzzo’s $16.5 million contract is more of a burden to the payroll and he will be a free-agent after the season.
The Red Sox don’t want to lock themselves into a long-term commitment for a first baseman with Triston Casas on the horizon. You can forget about Eric Hosmer – he isn’t having a productive season but even if he was, his albatross contract should take him out of consideration. The timeline for Casas could also take a few other options off the table.
However, the organization’s top prospect probably won’t be ready for his major league debut to begin the 2022 season. Trading for Rizzo means finding another solution to man the position next year. Re-signing him seems unlikely since it would require a multi-year deal that blocks the ascension of Casas. With only one more year at a fair price remaining on his contract, Santana is the perfect placeholder.
The brand name of Rizzo could enable the Cubs to ask for a blue-chip prospect to headline a hefty package despite that he’s only a rental. Santana should be easier to acquire. The Red Sox won’t surrender their best assets but they have several interesting prospects who will be Rule 5 draft eligible after this season and not enough roster spots to protect them all. Packaging a few expendable pieces should be enough to pry Santana away from Kansas City – it’s essentially what the Rays did to acquire Nelson Cruz without using their best prospects.
He won’t be the biggest name to be moved this week but his patience at the plate, appealing contract and an asking price from the Royals that should be reasonable are factors that combine to make Santana the ideal fit for Boston’s biggest need at the trade deadline.