There’s a rumor going around today that outfielder Domingo Santana is nearing a deal with the Indians. With there being a big hole in left field currently, the front office went out and got one of the best remaining free agent bats. Let’s take a look on how he will fit into the 2020 lineup.
Santana’s season last year is a two sided affair. In the first half, he slashed .286/.354/.496 with 127 wRC+ in 90 games. Santana went to the IL with right elbow inflammation in August, and wasn’t the same after coming back. He slashed .128/.234./.234 with 31 wRC+ in 31 games. On the bright side however, his x stats show he’s capable of more. As Kyle Berger stated in his article about breakout candidates, Santana ranks above average in barrels and hard hit rate, with an elite xwOBACON of .483. Due to his track record, it’s reasonable to expect 110-120 wRC+ out of his bat.
Santana’s outfield defense was among the worst in the Majors. Santana put up -13 OAA, which is second worst in the league behind Eddie Rosario. He also ranks 3rd worst in the league for Outfielder Jump, only behind the aging Shin-Soo Choo and Melky Cabrera. It doesn’t seem as if he will get any better at defense anytime soon, as every full season he has played he’s ranked in the lower 10th percentile in OAA.
Santana’s Role with the Tribe
Santana makes a lot of sense for the Indians, as they were desperately in need of a corner outfielder and an impact bat, and they killed two birds with one stone by signing him. He will likely bat 5th or 6th in the lineup once Opening Day is here. I do not see Santana getting much playing time in the outfield, and he will probably spend most of the time as a DH with Franmil Reyes playing left field.
The signing of Santana is a very low risk, high reward signing, which is a pretty common theme for this franchise. While it doesn’t all of a sudden make the lineup on par with the Twins, the tribe will still be very competitive for the division title.