Phillies: Carlos Santana replaces Maikel Franco with Royals
By Matt Rappa
One former Phillies infielder will replace another on the 2021 Royals roster.
While the Philadelphia Phillies have been largely inactive so far this offseason, among the teams that have been includes the Kansas City Royals. In recent weeks, the 2015 World Series champions signed outfielder Michael Taylor to a one-year, $1.75 million contract, and southpaw Mike Minor to a two-year, $18 million contract.
Ahead of the non-tender deadline, the club parted ways with several players, among them former Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco — who slashed .278/.321/.457 this past season with 16 doubles, eight home runs, and 38 RBI spanning 60 games. Now, it appears the Royals are swapping out the former Phillies infielder with another, as on Tuesday, they inked 1B/DH Carlos Santana to a two-year, $17.5 million contract, as first reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
Santana will take over first base duties for the Royals in 2021, allowing Hunter Dozier to return to the hot corner, where Franco took up most of the playing time this past season. Utility player Whit Merrifield could also log innings at the position.
The 11-year veteran Santana played all but one of his seasons with the Cleveland Indians from 2010-17 and 2019-20. With the Phillies in 2018, he struggled with a .229/.352/.414 slash line, but rebounded in 2019 back in Ohio, garnering his first-career All-Star nod and Silver Slugger Award, while also finishing 16th in the National League MVP Award race.
Santana played all 60 games this past season and led the American League in walks (47). Only Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper (49) bested him in the category across Major League Baseball.
The Phillies dealt Santana, along with their former top infield prospect J.P. Crawford, almost exactly two years ago to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio, and James Pazos. Just Segura remains in the organization, although his name has surfaced in recent trade rumors.
Santana will turn 35 in early April; combined across his career, he has slugged 301 doubles, 240 home runs, and 796 RBI, while walking nearly as many times (991) as he struck out (1,056).