Domingo Santana Adds Power (And Leaky Defense) To The Cleveland Indians Roster – Forbes

Seattle Mariners' Domingo Santana gestures in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the ... [+] seventh inning of the team's baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Friday, June 7, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Outfielder Domingo Santana remains a puzzle to this old baseball scout. Now hes also a puzzle for his new team, the Cleveland Indians. Santana and the Indians have agreed on a one-year, $1.5M contract with a club option.

When he was first signed as an international free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2019, Santana flashed a combination of speed and power that should have propelled him to excellence in his professional career. So far, in his six years at the big league level, Santana has been very meh. Translate that to mean ordinary. Average. Nothing special.

The Phillies spent $300,000 to sign Santana out of the Dominican Republic. It was a significant enough amount for the public to take notice.

Santana spent parts of two seasons in the Phillies minor league development program before he was included in a trade with the Houston Astros in the 2011 season. Along with Santana, the Astros sent outfielder Hunter Pence and cash to Philadelphia for pitchers Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, and first baseman Jon Singleton.

Santana made his big league debut with Houston in 2014, when he appeared in six games. He failed to get a hit in 18 plate appearances. He struck out 14 of the 18 times he went to the plate.

Things didnt improve much for Santana in the 2015 season. He started the year with the Astros, but was traded once again. At the July trade deadline, Santana was shipped to the Milwaukee Brewers along with pitchers Josh Hader, and Adrian Houser and outfielder Brett Phillips. The Astros received pitcher Mike Fiers and outfielder Carlos Gomez in return.

Santana finished his 2015 season hitting .238 combined for Houston and Milwaukee. He played in 52 games and received 187 plate appearances.

Santana slowly began to show the strength and overall athletic ability that originally attracted the Phillies. Maybe Philadelphia had signed a solid player and they made a mistake trading him?

After getting more exposure on the Brewers roster in 2016 and showing improvement, Santana virtually exploded in his age 24 season. Playing on a regular basis for Milwaukee in 2017, Santana busted out with 30 home runs and 85 RBIs. He stole 15 bases in 19 attempts. Santana had arrived. Or had he?

Santana regressed so badly in 2018 he was sent to the minor leagues for more seasoning and to regain a hitting stroke that had departed. He played for Colorado Springs for half the season, trying to regain his credibility and skills as a hitter.

By December that year, the Brewers had seen enough. They traded Santana to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Ben Gamel and pitcher Noah Zavolas.

Big and strong at 6-5, 220 pounds, the right-handed hitting Santana has been in frequent trade discussions. His physicality and obvious tools have been attractive to clubs hunting home runs and a power hitter for the middle of their lineup.

Seattledeployed Santana as a cleanup hitter, hitting him behind Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager. He responded fairly well in his first season for the Mariners, hitting 21 homers and driving in 69 runs in 507 plate appearances. While he didnt have the production of Nelson Cruz who was a dominant force for the Mariners, Santana did provide favorable numbers.

Probably seeing enough of his woeful defense and too many strikeouts for their liking, the Mariners declined to offer Santana a contract for 2020, making him a free agent. He went until the second week of February before signing a contract with the Indians.

Even though he missed time with an elbow injury this past season, this observer feels that what Domingo Santana has shown in his year with Seattle is a good indication of what is yet to come. He is capable of hitting home runs. He is capable of driving in runs. He is now in the prime of his career at age 27. That said, not much upside remains, and his defensive deficiencies and swing and misses provide room for concern.

Santana made 12 errors in the outfield for Seattle. Consider that Cleveland also has slugger Franmil Reyes taking more repetition in the outfield, hoping he can improve mediocre defense enough to play in the field every day. Before being traded to Cleveland, Reyes did play right field on a more consistent basis for San Diego. It just seemed Indians manager Terry Francona had little faith in his ability as a consistent quality outfield defender. Now he has both Santana and Reyes to mix and match as potential designated hitters/outfielders. It should be interesting to watch that unfold.

Projecting Santana and Reyes in the same outfield may give their manager acid reflux, but the offense those two right-handed hitters can provide is really encouraging. Both are big, strong and powerful hitters that add length to the Indians lineup.

Make no mistake, the Indians need the power potential of a hitter like Santana.

Before signing Santana, the Indians had a multitude of outfielders on the 40-man roster with very similar profiles. Only Reyes among them was capable of consistent power. Now they can add Santana to that power equation.

Right-handed hitting Oscar Macado is probably the most complete player among a group of better defensive than offensive players.

Greg Allen is a switch-hitter with little power. Jordan Luplow is a good right-handed hitter who struggles against lefties. Delino DeShields Jr. is a good defensive outfielder with a mediocre bat. Jake Bauers hits left-handed and hasnt yet shown a solid and consistent game.

Bradley Zimmer is another left-handed hitter with great speed, but he is coming off an injury and needs more time to regain his stroke. Daniel Johnson is a left-handed hitting rookie with promise but little experience. Tyler Naquin is injured and will likely start the season on the injured list.

The bulk of the Indians offense should come from All Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, third baseman Jose Ramirez, All Star first baseman Carlos Santana and Mercado, Reyes, and yes, Domingo Santana. The offensive contributions of catcher Roberto Perez last year cant be denied. But it was his only great year at the plate. It is certainly not a sure thing that he can repeat that production.

The Indians need Domingo Santana to lengthen the lineup and drive in runs. They also need him to catch the ball.

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Domingo Santana Adds Power (And Leaky Defense) To The Cleveland Indians Roster - Forbes

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