The Pittsburgh Pirates have brought another first baseman into the fold after agreeing to a one-year $6.7M deal with veteran Carlos Santana. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first to report the agreement.
The financial pact is the largest free agent deal handed out by current Pirates’ GM Ben Cherington.
Santana, 36, split last season between the Kansas City Royals and the Seattle Mariners.
The switch-hitter combined to slash .202/.316/.376 (102 wRC+) with 19 homers and 60 RBIs in 131 games between the two American League clubs.
Santana has spent 13 seasons in the big leagues and has put together a solid career. He’s a life time .242 hitter and excels at getting on base as evident by his .359 career on-base percentage mark. Santana has led the league in walks on two separate occasions — 2014 and 2020.
His career walk rate of 15.2% nearly matches his career strikeout rate of 16.5%.
The veteran first baseman has a chance to reach a couple milestones next season with Pittsburgh as he is just 22 home runs shy of 300 for his career and 75 RBIs away from the 1,000 mark.
With MLB implementing new rule changes for next season, including the limitation of defensive shifts, Santana is a player who could benefit from the change (.352 xwOBA).
Santana was an All-Star in 2018 while he was with Cleveland and was also awarded a silver slugger that year.
Santana is a fine defensive first baseman. He posted plus-one defensive runs saved last year and has complied 12 DRS for his career at first base.
The Pirates could opt to utilize Santana and recently-acquired Ji-Man Choi how they opted to use Yoshi Tsutsugo (first base) and Daniel Vogelbach (DH) at the beginning of last season.
With Choi undergoing elbow surgery this offseason, he is certainly a candidate to spend time as a designated hitter while he continues to heal.
The Pirates will also have the option of inserting Santana into the lineup against left-handed pitching in favor of Choi, an area in which the latter has struggled. Santana has a career .819 OPS against southpaws. Together, the duo creates a solid platoon option at first.
The Bucs continue to put an emphasis on improving first base heading into next season with Santana, Choi and Lewin Díaz all capable of manning the position.
Subscribe to Pittsburgh Baseball Now Plus here and not only get full Pirates’ coverage but the Steelers and Penguins, too.