Carlos Santana a decent option for thrifty Padres

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First baseman Carlos Santana is a decent option for the Padres this offseason as they look for inexpensive options. 

It appears the San Diego Padres will be thrifty when it comes to signing players this winter.

With a roster full of holes and a limited budget, it is not the worst idea. The team simply cannot be free-spending as they were in the past. The Padres need to be smart with their remaining roster construction. A.J. Preller indicated this week that he was going to wait until the market softened.

In looking for unheralded players, there are several names that come up. Most come with injury concerns, age issues, or whatever has limited their value over the years. Don’t get me wrong- there are still useful players available on the open market, but the Padres will need to do their due diligence to sift through the garbage and find a gem or two.

If the Padres are looking for production for the 2024 season at a discount rate, then Carlos Santana may be a quality fit for the team.

At the age of 37, Santana is coming off a season where he produced a .747 OPS in 146 games between the Pirates and Brewers. The switch-hitter is capable at first base or DH, and that is something the Padres need heading into the 2024 season. Jake Cronenworth is penciled in at first base, but the infielder could be dealt or moved back to second base. The Padres just traded Matt Carpenter, and that leaves an opening at the DH spot.

Santana owns a career slash line of .242/.356/.432 with a .787 OPS and a 121 OPS+. He has been more effective from the right side (.819 OPS) throughout his career, but the numbers are not that different from when he bats left-handed (.773 OPS). The true switch-hitter would provide flexibility for the Padres in the middle of the lineup.

The former All-Star from the Dominican Republic would be a nice fit for the Padres at the right price, though. They can’t pay top dollar. The team certainly needs offensive options but cannot break the bank in securing their roster for the coming season.

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There is some risk in signing Santana, as the first baseman endured some rough years from 2020-2023, where he struggled to maintain a .700 OPS for the Royals, Guardians, and Mariners. However, before the COVID season, Santana was a career .800 OPS hitter with decent power. He was very undervalued during that span as Sanatana regularly walked and got on base for his team.

The cost for Santana will not be huge, nor would it require more than a one-year deal.

Last season, he made $6.75 million, and that number is about what he is expected to make on the open market this season. He may take less as the winter progresses, given his age. The Padres could get decent production for minimal cost. All though, spending around $5 million is a lot for the Padres these days. He will likely need to take a decent pay cut to play in San Diego.

It will come down to the market. If Carlos Santana is having issues finding a team come late January, then the Padres may swoop in and offer him a job and at-bats. They will likely use that strategy to secure several players right before the team reports to Peoria in February. You can find some real bargains that time of year, and Carlos Santana could be one for the Padres.

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