The Yankees Should Pursue Carlos Santana

The New York Yankees might trade Luke Voit, and with a potential hole at first, they should look to sign Carlos Santana in free agency.

The New York Yankees have been rumored to want to trade Luke Voit. Whether it’s for Francisco Lindor or starting pitching, he might be the main piece in a deal for marquee talent. The Yankees could of course sign DJ LeMahieu to play 1B, but if they want to keep the gold glove defense at second, they can opt to sign a first baseman. The market for first baseman on the surface looks pretty lackluster. CJ Cron is a power bat but he came off of injury, Daniel Murphy is a shell of the player he once was, and everyone else is just mediocre. That was the case for the first baseman on the market, but the Indians let go of 1B Carlos Santana, and the Yankees might want to pounce on him in free agency.

Carlos Santana’s Offense Is Superb

Carlos Santana will turn 35 during the beginning of the 2021 season, but in his last 3 years, he’s been quite a phenomenal bat. Since 2018 he has a .370 OBP and .447 SLG which is very reminiscent of an Aaron Hicks slash line. He also has a .350 wOBA and .361 xwOBA, indicating that he’s slightly underperforming his potential based on his batted balls. His 117 wRC+ also provides a solid switch-hitting bat to the lineup, something the Yankees would love to have. While his production when he makes contact is pretty good, it’s probably not what Yankee fans would be most intrigued by in comparison to another quality this veteran bat has.

High Contact Rate 

Out of 164 qualified hitters since 2018, he is 33rd in K%, meaning he makes a lot of contact and rarely strikes out. In fact, Carlos Santana actually walks more than he strikes out. Yes, you read that right, from 2018-2020 he walked 16.4% of the time and struck out 15.1% of the time. That contact rate plus the fact that he’s a very big pull hitter (46.7% pull% since 2018) and hits a lot of flyballs (40.5% FB% since 2018) means that he’s going to have a lot of success here. When you do the math, the Yankees have had 40.7% of their pulled flyballs hit for home runs in Yankee Stadium, assuming he gets around 2,700 pitches in a 162 game season and that his HR/FB% shoots up to around 18%, you could project him to hit just an insane amount of home runs here. 

Solid Play At 1B Improves Your Defense

Since 2018 Carlos Santana has a 3 OAA (Outs Above Average), a 0.5 UZR/150, and 5 DRS. The big knock on the Yankees is basically their defense and pitching, so he is a huge help. He is someone that can play solid 1B and man the right side of the infield with DJ. His upgraded defensive play is something that you are going to really enjoy in comparison to Luke Voit’s inability to consistently play first. While yes Voit is a significantly better hitter, if you’re trading him for a starting pitcher then you have to take that. We have offensive firepower everywhere in the lineup, and Carlos Santana isn’t a slouch at the plate. You’d be able to help your pitching with good defense while maintaining a solid bat in the infield.

What Would It Take To Get Carlos Santana On the Yankees?

Carlos Santana had a $17.5 million dollar player option declined, so he could get a deal similar to DJ’s in 2018. 2 years at $24 million would be great, a $12 million AAV is really solid considering he’s a plus bat and okay glove. Is he an upgrade over Voit at 1B? Not necessarily, but if Voit is traded to bolster the rotation, then it’s a team upgrade. Assuming you get DJ at a 4 year $80 million dollar clip, here’s what your lineup could be:
(Their xwOBA since 2018 is next to their name)

  1. Aaron Hicks CF .354 (S)
  2. Aaron Judge RF .394 (R)
  3. DJ LeMahieu 2B .356 (R)
  4. Giancarlo Stanton DH .356 (R)
  5. Gleyber Torres SS .343 (R)
  6. Carlos Santana 1B .361 (S)
  7. Gio Urshela 3B .349 (R)
  8. Gary Sanchez C .349 (R)
  9. Clint Frazier LF .336 (R)

The lineup could match up with anyone’s and since trading Voit meant you got a pitcher, the $32 million spent on the infield leaves the rest of the money to be spent on pitching. This deal makes all the sense in the world for the Yankees since that also means that none of their starters in the lineup would hit free agency until Santana does in 2023. With a switch-hitting bat in that lineup that balances the lineup and is a nice compensation for losing Voit in a trade.

If the Yankees want to get better, they might have to inquire on a contract for Carlos Santana.

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