Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reported that the Phillies are aggressively shopping Carlos Santana to clear space for Rhys Hoskins.
While Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins in Japan representing the league, the Phillies are reportedly looking to trade Santana away to allow Hoskins to play first base. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic (subscription required) wrote Monday morning that the team is aggressively shopping Carlos Santana according to a rival executive.
The logic behind the deal is fairly straightforward: Hoskins finished 2018 with -24 defensive runs saved, the second-worst total for any left fielder since the stat was first tracked in 2003. Adam Dunn is the only one with a worse total with -26 in 2007. Anytime you are in company with Dunn defensively, that’s not a good thing.
MLB.com offered another possible reason to move Santana: clear room for Bryce Harper. By doing so, Hoskins could play first and Harper could slide into the outfield without having to dislodge any other players like Nick Williams or Maikel Franco.
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The catch with any Santana trade is the fact that Philadelphia would likely have to include some cash in the deal to pay the $35 million in salary left in his deal. Other teams know Philadelphia wants/needs to deal Santana, so that hurts their leverage as well.
It also doesn’t help that Santana is coming off arguably the worst offensive season of his career. He had a .229/.352/.414 line with 24 home runs and 86 runs batted in. He did well reaching base and hitting for some power, but that’s about it. His 109 wRC+ and 105 OPS+ are both the second-lowest of his career, slightly topping his 2015 season in Cleveland.
TC Zencka of MLB Trade Rumors wrote that Santana may be better suited for an American League team where he can spend some time as the designated hitter, even though he is a decent defender at first base. A possible fit could be the Minnesota Twins, who just lost Joe Mauer to retirement.
It’s not surprising that the Phils are looking for a way out of the Santana contract given how his first year went with the team. Getting Hoskins back to first is ideal, and the most convenient way to do that is to simply trade away Santana.