Domingo Santana has been drawing some attention as the trade deadline approaches, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link) reports that the Rays and Indians are two of the teams showing some interest in the Mariners outfielder.
Santana has rebounded from a down year in 2018 to hit .273/.342/.475 over 446 plate appearances for the Mariners, and he recorded his 20th homer of the season in today’s 3-2 win over the Tigers. Despite the impressive 120 wRC+, however, Santana has also struck out a league-high 135 times, and is a significant defensive liability as a corner outfielder.
The lack of glovework is particularly ill-suited to a Tampa Bay team that prioritizes defensive versatility, particularly since Tommy Pham and Austin Meadows have been so productive as the regular corner outfielders. That said, the Rays may simply be willing to overlook Santana’s defensive shortcomings in the name of getting some extra pop in their lineup, which is middle-of-the-pack is most offensive categories leaguewide. Santana and Meadows could more or less split the right field and DH duties, with prospect Nate Lowe perhaps returning to the minors until rosters expand in September. It isn’t a perfect fit, on paper, though Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto and Rays GM Erik Neander have been such frequent trading partners that it isn’t a shock to see Tampa linked to any potentially-available Seattle player.
The Indians also aren’t strangers to trading with the Mariners, as they joined with the Rays for last December’s three-team that saw Carlos Santana go to Cleveland and Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle. As with the Rays, Santana would give the Tribe’s offense a shot in the arm, especially since Cleveland is still looking for some consistent production from its outfield. Rookie Oscar Mercado has solidified center field, and Tyler Naquin and Jordan Luplow have both hit well in limited action, though adding Santana as an outfielder/DH would certainly help matters. Of particular note, Santana’s right-handed bat would greatly help a lineup that hasn’t done much damage against lefty pitching this season.
Santana’s struggles with the Brewers last year led to his modest $1.95MM 2019 salary in his first year of arbitration, so even though he’ll undoubtedly get a big raise this winter, he won’t earn enough to break the bank for the low-payroll Rays or Indians. Since Santana has two-plus remaining years of control, of course, Seattle will be looking for a quality return in any trade.