Much speculation has developed in recent days that the Philadelphia Phillies could be looking to deal away first baseman Carlos Santana.
While I had previously pushed that possibility here at Phillies Nation, the notion gained real traction with a report earlier this week from MLB insider Ken Rosenthal that the Phillies were “shopping the hell” out of Santana.
It should be fairly obvious as to why the Phillies would be trying to move on from this player and contract. Spending $40 million over the next two years for a 33-34 year old whose best position is also best for your top current offensive player, Rhys Hoskins, seems to make little sense.
But with that in mind, are there any teams out there for whom Santana would make sense? Where might Phillies GM Matt Klentak look to find a match in such a trade?
Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors examined the situation in detail today and came up with a case for 14 different teams, nearly half of the clubs in Major League Baseball, to add Santana to their mix.
In breaking down Santana himself as a player, the limited number of teams who are probably actually looking to add such a player, the financial situations of the other ball clubs, and the other available options on the market, Dierkes made the following observation:
“…in reality there are enough cheaper alternatives on the market that the Phillies will have to kick in at least $10MM, or else take back a contract or attach a prospect.”
Less than a handful of teams would appear to actually make sense in such a deal. A genuine case can be made that a match could be found with the Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins.
The Twins probably make more sense than any other team. Aaron Gleeman of Baseball Prospectus posited this very thought in a Tweet on Monday.
Phillies shopping Carlos Santana, per @Ken_Rosenthal.
Twins might make sense, if Phillies eat some money. Santana has old Cleveland connection with Derek Falvey and would be solid short-term fit at 1B/DH.
He's owed $35 million for 2019/2020. I'd take him for two-thirds of that.
— Aaron Gleeman (@AaronGleeman) November 12, 2018
Minnesota has just $24.5 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, and none at all in 2020. Cots Contracts estimates the Twins payroll for next season to reach just past the $70 million mark, and then drop precipitously in the 2020 campaign.
With the team’s payroll having exceeded the $100 million mark in six of the last eight seasons, peaking at nearly $129 million last year, Minnesota can certainly afford the Santana contract. At the very least they could afford half of the deal, which would help the Phillies financial situation.
If I were Matt Klentak, I’m on the phone with Twins general manager Thad Levine right now looking to unload as much of that Santana contract as possible. I’m really not concerned with what I get back in return, the salary relief would be enough.
For the Phillies to get any team to take Santana they are likely going to have to eat some of that salary or include a half-decent prospect. I would prefer, and I believe the Phillies would as well, lean towards eating salary.
A trade of Santana to the Twins or some other team might result in a pitcher such as Ranger Suarez or Enyel De Los Santos going along with the first baseman, and the Phillies then getting major salary relief, taking back a lesser prospect in return.
With Hoskins back at first base and another $10-20 million available to spend in salaries over the next couple of years, the Phillies would be better positioned to move forward and fill real holes.
The Santana situation will continue to be just one of the major issues playing out down at the Phillies offices at Citizens Bank Park during what promises to be a fascinating and active off-season for the team.
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