Phillies: Trading Carlos Santana tough, but not impossible

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Carlos Santana #41 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 3, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Carlos Santana #41 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 3, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Should the Phillies move on from their most expensive hitter this offseason?

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak turned heads when he signed first baseman Carlos Santana to a three-year deal worth $60 million. It was one of the the biggest contracts given to a hitter last offseason and the first deal made in a slow market.

Santana was touted as a consistent hitter who brought power and an ability to get on base at a ridiculous rate. He’d also bring veteran leadership into the clubhouse and help mentor Maikel Franco.

Fast-forward to September, and Santana has failed to live up to most expectations. While he provided a ridiculous 106 walks and a .355 on-base percentage, he hit just .230 with 23 home runs and committed 10 errors at first.

Many fans want Santana jettisoned off the face of the earth, which is just as likely as him being traded this offseason.

Ken Rosenthal said on Fox Sports that every player on the Phillies roster, with the exception of Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, is on the trade block. But that doesn’t mean Santana will find himself in anything other than red and white.

"“Unlikely, a trade of Carlos Santana to reopen first for Hoskins, that would be an admission by the Phils that they never should have signed Santana in the first place.”"

Saying the Phillies should move on and actually getting it done are two universally different things.

The main issue with trading Santana is the money tied to him over the next two seasons. The first baseman is owed $20.33 million in 2019 and $20.83 in 2020, currently making him their most expensive hitter in each season, something that could change in a matter of months.

Getting another team to take on Santana’s contract will be impossible barring the Phillies eating money or taking on another bad contract. If there’s one thing the Phillies have, it’s money to spend. Money is no object to owner John Middleton, who is worth $3.2 billion and “wants his (bleeping) trophy back.”

No part of Santana’s .230 batting average or 1.7 WAR will bring that “(bleeping) trophy” back to Philadelphia.

With that being said, how much would the Phillies have to eat of Santana’s contract?

Perhaps the closest comparison to Santana’s deal in a recent move was the Atlanta Braves trading Melvin (BJ) Upton to the Padres. Atlanta took on $24 million from Carlos Quentin and Cameron Maybin while also receiving two prospects and a draft pick. However, they also dealt All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel in the deal, which evened it out.

It’s rare to find a complete match with trade precedent, but look at the Brandon Phillips, Justin Upton, and Evan Longoria trades for somewhat of a comparison.

SEATTLE – JUNE 18: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at Safeco Field on June 18, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE – JUNE 18: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies at Safeco Field on June 18, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

The Phillies would likely have to find a team who needs a first baseman and also wants to move a starting pitcher’s contract. The deal would have to be Santana and a prospect for a pitcher. Tyler Chatwood in Chicago would make sense if there was a place for Santana to play. Same for Felix Hernandez in Seattle, but that would be complicated by Hernandez’s no-trade clause.

Perhaps the Minnesota Twins would deal a reliever like Addison Reed, who is owed $8.5 million next year, for Santana as a replacement to free agent Joe Mauer. That would take more money out of the Phillies pockets, but also a lesser prospect from the Twins.

That’s the type of deal it would take for the Phillies to get rid of Santana’s contract, and unfortunately Santana is limited at his position, making the list of potential suitors even shorter.

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The unflattering aspect of the trade is Klentak, who enters his third offseason with the Phillies, admitting that Santana as a mistake. That’s the aspect that shouldn’t come into the discussion, but unfortunately it could.

Personally I’d be happier with an organization admitting their mistake and getting better than them being stubborn.

Perhaps it’s not stubbornness, but hope that Santana will bounce-back and hit .260 next year.

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The Phillies can get better in so many ways by moving Santana this offseason. It puts Hoskins back at his natural position, opens a spot in the outfield for a free agent or Roman Quinn, and potentially adds a veteran through whatever trade Santana goes in.

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