The Red Sox are planning to have infielder/outfielder Danny Santana active for this weekend’s series against the Phillies, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (via Twitter). Santana, who inked a minor league deal with the Red Sox in Spring Training, was slowed by a foot infection that required surgery but has been playing well over the past week in Triple-A. Boston will need to select him to its 40-man roster, so a corresponding 40-man move will need to be made. Santana has an opt-out clause in his deal this Sunday, tweets MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, so the move will need to take place by then.
Santana, 30, has played eight minor league games and looked sharp in his return to the field. He’s 13-for-30 with three homers and three doubles to go along with a 3-to-7 BB/K overall in 35 trips to the plate. When he’s formally added to the roster, he’ll give the Red Sox yet another versatile, multi-position option to rotate around the field — a skill set they clearly prioritized heading into 2021. Santana, Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez can all play just about position, and like Gonzalez, Santana is a switch-hitter.
The veteran Santana will be hoping to put a miserable, injury-ruined 2020 season in the rear-view mirror and bounce back to the form he showed in a career year with the 2019 Rangers. That ’19 campaign saw Santana erupt with a .283/.324/.534 batting line, 28 home runs and 21 steals in 511 trips to the plate while playing all four infield spots and all three outfield positions. However, outside of that juiced-ball season, Santana has just 14 home runs in 1228 plate appearances.
Santana’s elbow didn’t afford him the chance to follow up on that ostensible breakout showing, as he landed on the injured list after scuffling through 63 plate appearances in 2020. He ultimately required surgery to repair an elbow strain — a procedure that came with a recovery period of seven to eight months. He’s now past that rehab timeline and looks to have put both the elbow and foot troubles behind him.
It’s been a strange career for Santana, who burst onto the scene as a Rookie of the Year candidate with the 2014 Twins when he hit .319/.353/.427 with seven homers and 20 steals in 430 plate appearances. Santana’s production absolutely cratered the following year, however, and he didn’t have a single productive season (or even close to it) in the four years between that rookie year and his out-of-the-blue 2019 campaign. From 2015-18, Santana tallied 735 plate appearances between the Twins and Braves but posted a brutal .219/.256/.319 line.
Time will tell which version of Santana the Red Sox are getting, but a bench that includes him, Gonzalez and Hernandez would be one of the most versatile in baseball. It should be pointed out that Gonzalez is struggling mightily to begin his Red Sox tenure, having batted just .205/.293/.295 through his first 150 plate appearances, so it’s possible that Santana’s arrival will come at the expense of Gonzalez’s playing time.