After signing a three-year, $60 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last year in free agency; it appears that first baseman Carlos Santana could be on the move this offseason.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote in his latest column that the Phillies are “shopping the hell” out of Santana per a rival executive. It does not come as a surprise to see this rumor floating out there about the veteran first baseman.
Santana had an average first season in Philadelphia hitting .229/.352/.414 to go along with 24 home runs and 86 RBI. Outside of the pedestrian offense, he also blocked Rhys Hoskins from returning to first base full-time.
This season, the Phillies experimented with the 25-year-old Hoskins playing in the outfield, which was not a complete failure. But Hoskins is a supremely better infielder than outfielder. Also not to mention, the Phillies have their eyes on free agent superstar outfielder Bryce Harper.
Therefore, the Philadelphia might be better off moving the 32-year-old Santana to another team. But the question then would be who is willing to take an older infielder with still $35 million left on his contract?
That is a tough question to answer. If the Phillies cannot move Santana this offseason, then he could end up being the team’s starting third baseman in 2019.
Late in the season, manager Gabe Kapler made a surprising change in the defensive alignment, moving Rhys Hoskins back to his natural position at first baseman and putting Santana at third base.
Santana played 19 games at third base and had a .974 fielding percentage in 119 innings. Despite a small sample size, his fielding percentage was better than the league average (.958).
When asked about the idea of moving to third base full-time in 2019, Santana did not turn it down.
“I’d be open to it,” he said (h/t Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philly). “I’m prepared for any situation. All I care about is being in the lineup every day. It doesn’t matter if I’m at first or third.”
With Santana holding his own at the hot corner, it made Maikel Franco solely a bench player. Speaking of Franco, his name has also been brought up in trade rumors this offseason. The San Diego Padres have reportedly expressed interest in the young third baseman.
Consequently, if Franco is moved, then it opens up third base for Santana. One would think that GM Matt Klentak would be more open to doing that because Santana is statistically better defensively and offensively than Franco. Also, Franco will not become a free agent until 2022, meaning he is arbitration eligible beginning in 2019.
It will be interesting to see how this offseason pans out for the Phillies. They obviously have their eyes on the big prize in Harper and if they can get him, it may trigger other moves in the process.