Carlos Santana agrees to sign with Twins (Source)

Carlos Santana agrees to sign with Twins (Source)

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins wasted no time in using the money they saved in the Jorge Polanco trade, as they reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with veteran Carlos Santana on Friday night, according to a source.

The club has not confirmed the deal, which is worth $5.25 million plus incentives, according to MLB Network insider John Heyman.

Although Santana will turn 38 shortly after Opening Day, he still provided 2.7 bWAR of value for the Pirates and Brewers last season by posting a slash line of .240/.318/.429 with 23 home runs per game. 146 games, which would have been a long ball shy of the Twins’ lead. His switch-hitting bat and unwavering discipline at the plate will be especially important to coach Rocco Baldelli’s lineup construction following Polanco’s departure.

Santana, a longtime first baseman and designated hitter, has seen his health, defense and production noticeably increase over the years. It represents a very stylish and budget-friendly design for the needs of twins.

More importantly, Santana has hit better from the right side throughout his career, which continued with a .266/.354/453 slash (and .807 OPS) against southpaws last season. The Twins needed some right-handed production to balance their bullpen-heavy lineup, and Santana could give them an impact — and at least a very professional appearance — in that role.

The switch-hitting aspect is also important, because prior to Santana’s arrival, the Twins also did not have a clear designated hitter against right-handed pitching. They will consider rotating that role to play games and keep their players fresh, as is Baldelli’s preference, but Santana’s ability to hit left-handed gives him the ability to occupy that important spot.

The move also makes a lot of sense as the Twins ideally need more stability deep into their first base, where they will initially rely on a platoon of left-handed Alex Kirillov and right-handed Jose Miranda. Both come with a great deal of uncertainty. Kirillov has never stayed healthy in the majors, with a host of wrist and shoulder issues, and Miranda is coming off rotator cuff surgery and is completely lost for 2023.

Playing for the Twins has not been an issue with Santana in the outfield, as he is a finalist for the National League Gold Glove Award at first base and leads his position with 11 defensed runs saved, according to FanGraphs. He has always been a positive defender, ranking above average (62nd percentile) in pitch run value last season, according to Statcast, and well above average (76th percentile) in range.

It’s also worth noting that Santana has been a model of durability, averaging 152 games per season since 2011 (not counting the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign) and has never played fewer than 131 games in a full season in that time. Given the injury history of several key players in the Twins lineup, this holds special significance for roster composition.

The Twins may still find themselves somewhat lacking in right-handed options in the outfield, but a healthier Byron Buxton could go a long way in that regard. They may still have to rely on more of Willie Castro as a platoon hitter or the emergence of Austin Martin, the No. 20 prospect in the MLB Pipeline rankings, unless they add another pitch to their recent flurry of activity.

(tags for translation) MLB

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