Are the Phillies really looking at a veteran first baseman in free agency?
Hours after reporting the Phillies were interested in reliever Jake McGee, Jon Morosi of MLB.com has connected the Phillies to veteran first baseman Carlos Santana. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports also connected the Phillies and the Red Sox to Santana earlier this offseason.
Considering the immense success displayed by Rhys Hoskins last year it sounds strange to see Philadelphia connected to a 31-year-old first baseman. Some have reported the club is comfortable keeping Hoskins in left field next season where he played the majority of his major league innings.
Should that be the case it spells bad news for Aaron Altherr after a breakout season hit once again by injuries. Altherr hit a career-high 19 home runs in his fourth major league season and hit .356 in the month of July. Multiple injuries have plagued his career, this time being a hamstring strain at the end of the season.
Santana has played his entire career in Cleveland and has appeared in 330 games as a catcher before transitioning to first base. He’s hit 57 home runs over the last two seasons, but his on-base percentage is what likely intrigues the Phillies. In those same two seasons Santana has struck out just 193 times while walking 187 times; that’s an incredible rate for any major league player let alone a power hitter.
He’d fit well with J.P. Crawford, who carries a similar mindset at the plate in terms of getting on base at a high percentage.
Manager Gabe Kapler could also utilize Santana as an emergency catcher behind Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp assuming Cameron Rupp is moved. Signing Santana allows the Phillies to keep both their young catchers while having a veteran with catching experience to lead them this season.
Given their current financial situation, general manager Matt Klentak could blow Santana and his agents at Octagon out of the water with a hefty contract. Last season the Dominican native earned $12 million with the Indians.