After getting limited big league playing time in 2017 and 2018, Anthony Santander showed signs of breaking out in 2019. Just 24 years old at the time, he hit 20 home runs in 93 games, slashing .261/.297/.476. The lack of walks kept his wRC+ just below league average at 97, but given his youth, power and ability to hit from both sides of the plate, there was a lot to feel good about.
In the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, he took his game up a notch. He improved his walk rate from 4.7% to 6.1%, still below average, but progress nonetheless. His strikeout rate dropped from 21.2% to 15.2%, and he hit 11 home runs in just 37 games, slashing .261/.315/.575 for a wRC+ of 130.
Unfortunately, 2021 was a step backwards, with multiple trips to the IL limiting his playing time and production. In 110 games, he still showed his power potential with 18 home runs, but his walk rate dropped to 5.3% and his strikeout rate ticked up to 23.1%. The defensive metrics also largely viewed him as below average, after being near or above in the previous two seasons. He finished the year with a wRC+ of 92 and 0.6 fWAR.
The Orioles are deep in rebuilding mode, having finished below .500 for five straight seasons and last in the AL East for four of those, with their lone step out of the basement being when the Red Sox slipped to just one game behind the O’s in the shortened 2020 campaign. Although the farm system is now well regarded and has many top prospects nearing MLB readiness, there’s still a long path ahead to competitiveness, as the club finished last year with a record of 52-110, 39 games behind the fourth place Blue Jays.
Santander has three years of club control left and can be retained by Baltimore through the 2024 season. Although it’s possible the club is rebuilt by then, it would also make sense for them to entertain trade scenarios. Even if they are capable of contending in the 2024 season, Santander will be in his final year of control and turn 30 in October of that year. For a club clearly prioritizing the long term, it would be logical to consider a swap that brings back players that can help beyond that three-year timeframe. The O’s also have Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays likely to be occupying two of the three outfield spots on a regular basis, meaning that dealing Santander could free up one slot for the team to give some playing time to other options, such as DJ Stewart, Ryan McKenna, Yusniel Diaz or Kyle Stowers.
The Orioles don’t need to rush into a deal, as Santander isn’t breaking the bank. He qualified for arbitration last year as a Super Two, earning a salary of $2.1MM, and has already agreed to a contract of $3.15MM for this year. Given his down year in 2021, it makes sense for the club to hang onto him for now, hoping he can get back to the form he showed in 2020 before dealing him at the trade deadline or even next winter.
Santander played a bit of center field in 2019 but is primarily a corner outfielder. Any team that needs help in the outfield but isn’t likely to splurge on an expensive free agent like Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber or Seiya Suzuki could be intrigued, especially if he’s healthy and playing up to his potential this year.
The Rockies are looking for outfielders, having been connected to Bryant and Schwarber this offseason. The Padres need outfield help and might be facing a budget crunch after going over the luxury tax line last year and still not finding a taker for Eric Hosmer’s contract. The Guardians certainly need outfielders and almost never land high-paid free agents, plus Cleveland has a bundle of young and controllable arms that would surely appeal to a Baltimore team desperate for pitching. The Giants have been connected to Suzuki but are apparently looking to avoid big free agent expenditures and could pivot to other options if they’re outbid. The Phillies have Bryce Harper in right but could use upgrades in center and left — trading for someone like Santander could allow them to spend more on other areas, such as the infield and bullpen.
Clubs like the White Sox, Marlins, Rangers and Braves could also make sense, as well as a handful of other teams, depending on what other transactions take place in the coming months. There’s also the possibility of further suitors emerging as the season progresses, if injuries create a need on a team that isn’t an obvious fit at the moment.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
Santander is a perfect example of why teams who aren’t in contention should always be looking out to try and trade for the future. He was never going to help the Orioles win a championship. They could have gotten a lot more for him in a trade if they did it earlier. Now he has lost a bunch of his previous trade value and they won’t get nearly as much. They should have flipped him before now. Baltimore needs as many good high minor league players as they can get and don’t have much use for the more expensive older guys at the major league level. Just keep restocking the farm until the young core is good enough to get you to the playoffs in their own. Only then can you afford to stop focusing on the future and start focusing on the present.
Generally, yeah. But what if Santander had blown up into a perennial all-star player? He’d not only be worth way more than he was, but would also put some butts in seats and is young enough to still be around when the cavalry arrives if you keep him. It’s not about mechanically trading away your good players when you suck, it’s about picking the right ones of your own young players to keep. With certain clubs, it really does seem like other teams know their players better than they do.
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
That’s true. It’s easier said than done. It’s hard to predict which players are going to blow up and when. I think Santander looked like one of the easier calls, though. He posted a wRC+ of 130 in 2020 year so they definitely could have gotten a lot for him in a trade last offseason. Especially at his age and contract status. His numbers were never that good before that and his inability to walk, amongst other things, made it seem to me they would have been trading him at his peak value. I think they should consider trading Mullins for a ransom right now. He was great last year but has never been that good before at any level. I think he will stay a good player but it wouldn’t be a surprise if last season ended up being his absolute career peak. No one would have expected him to ever hit like that a year ago. Considering the Orioles are years away from even contending for a Wild Card I would put Mullins on the market and see how high he auctions off at. If they can get at least 3 great minor league players for Mullins, I would pull the trigger. His contract will be pretty close to over by the time they could contend anyway. The players they get in exchange for him would be under contract a lot longer and come up around the same time as their future stars like Adley Rustchman are ready.
Rustchman will be called up to the majors this season (if there is a season).
@Hammer – I don’t mean to pick on you but I disagree about when Santander should have been traded. No GM was going to pay a premium for Santander based on a career 2020 season that only spanned 60 games, just like the Cubs were not going to cut or trade Kris Bryant in the offseason after a down 2020 shortened season. The Orioles made the right decision by holding onto Santander post 2020. Had he jumped out to a great start in 2021, they would have been able to trade him for a nice package of players at the deadline, but not necessarily top prospects from other organizations. His low OBP relative to his BA and his average at best defense would have limited the trade return no matter which season he was traded in. Don’t get me wrong, Santander is a nice player but not someone who’s going to turn a potential contender into a true contender. He can certainly help a new team, but he’s only a 1.5-2.0 WAR player when he’s playing well career to date. Perhaps he breaks out this season and learns to take walks. If he can do that and hit 30HRs / 30 2Bs, then we are talking about a true trade asset versus a serviceable starter.
He’s a 25+ HR type guy. Power isn’t his issue. Not chasing bad pitches is. He has value to a majority of teams. Especially cost conscience teams in their competitive window. Unfortunately, only half of that applies to the Orioles now. So he should definitely be shopped.
Ed "The Mythical One"
Spoken like a true Orioles fan. Santander has very little value, if any, to any other team. 25HR power is easy to come by from a corner OF. Teams have shied away from the all or nothing free swinging hitters. Santander also has a very checkered injury history and isn’t an asset in the outfield. The only team he has value to is the Orioles who love putting together a softball lineup.
There were 65 players who hit 25 HR. A little more than 2 per team. 21 of them were OFers. I’m not saying he’s a superstar because there are obvious holes in his game (ala his softball approach). Santander may not be a top half OFer/hitter, but he’s a MLB starter on many teams.
He is a MLB OFer already (on the worst team in baseball). The question is, does he have any trade value in which the Os could improve their team by dealing him. I just can’t see any team giving up anyone for a player with so many holes in his game. And….his MLB maximum is 20 HR (did it once), and he never hit more than 20 in the minors. Servicable yes. Could the Os get anyone better than him in trade now? I say no. Now if he has a breakout year this year, sure.. Which is basically the conclusion of the article.
Can they get someone better for the 2022 roster? No. 2023 roster? No. 2024 or 25 roster? Maybe… If they trade him now, the only thing they O’s can get is added MiLB risk with replacement level odds at a position at a position of organizational need. No projected +5 WAR type game changers. If 2022 Santander has top-line stats like Mountcastle did in 2021, he still wouldn’t get a game changing type return either. It’ll be “prove it” like Mullins has. Santander has had up/down/injury seasons. Plus, he’ll be another year older and closer to FA (assuming CBA doesn’t change those rules).
Santander isn’t part of the O’s future (>2023). He could be a contributor on another team in 2022.
Still sticking by the “worst team in baseball” comment?
This one was easy though. Santander has never been able to stay healthy, as he showed last season. The O”s have outfielders, Santander should be dealt.
By this logic the Pirates should trade Reynolds.
They 10000% should trade Reynolds
Please, Hammer. Don't hurt 'em.
Yes. I think the Pirates should trade Reynolds assuming they can get a king’s ransom in return, which I believe they can. The next few years of players like Santander, Mullins and Reynolds don’t hold as much value for teams like the Pirates and Orioles because they won’t contend for those years regardless. Trade them for a slew of great young prospects who will be under contract for a much larger number of the years that actually matter. We’re not talking about the Marlins, Padres, Angels or Mariners here. Those teams need just a little help and they could start making the playoffs in a year or 2. We are talking about the Orioles and Pirates. 2 of the worst teams in baseball. They aren’t contending anytime soon.
Y’all are either really sleeping on the Pirates, or don’t know their farmsystem if you don’t believe they’ll have an opportunity to contend with Reynolds in the next 1-3 years. Currently, they have the best farmsystem in baseball and many near-MLB ready prospects. Here’s the list of prospects I can come up with who they could see lose prospect status next year: Travis Swaggerty, Oneil Cruz, Roansy Contreras, Matt Fraizer, Carmen Mlodzinski, Diego Castillo, Ji-Hwan Bae, Miguel Yajure, Canaan Smith-Njigba, Jack Suwnski, Tucupita Marcano, and Mason Martin. Their Triple-A teal will be loaded to start next year and by the end of the year, will have guys like Nick Gonzales, Liover Peguero, Quinn Priester, Michael Burrows, J.C. Flowers, Connor Scott, and Luis Ortiz.
If the Pirates aren’t at least a Wild Card team by 2023, then they serisously messed up. They should see some serious improvement in 2022 just based on the amount of prospects they’ll see. Reynolds needs to be someone they build around rather than trade.
I’d like to see that, and I’m a Yankees fan. Teams can go bad for a lot of reasons…sometimes it’s largely bad luck that players never really meet the promise they once had, while other players get injured or prematurely “old”. MLB needs good teams in as many cities as possible, especially “old” cities.
Isn’t Reynolds under control for four more years? No reason to concede to losing for that long. No reason to trade a great player.
This. Pirates are nearing the end of the long road. Question is whether they will invest what it takes until the kids are seasoned enough to win. They’ll need some additions, as all successful tanking teams eventually realize.
Ducky Buckin Fent
Hey, I’m not sleeping on the Pirates, @mlb1225.
But…well, that’s mostly because I have been reading your posts for the last couple years.
Seattle has the best farm in baseball, actually.
Depends what you go by. FanGraphs ranked them as the 2nd best farm before their updated rankings with the Orioles being #1. I assume things wouldn’t have changed for the Pirates. If anything their system got deeper with the additions of Connor Scott, Kyle Nicolas, Yordany De Los Santos, and Tony Blanco Jr. Seattle’s farm is really good too, though I’d say it’s a little more top-heavy. Past the first 5-6, it starts to tail off more than the Pirates.
I’m sure you’re right & I can’t remember where I read it even though it was just yesterday. Probably because I spend all my time at work so I only have enough time to get on for a minute usually, lol.
The pirates have a luxury the orioles don’t—a fairly soft division.
The Reds are somewhere in the middle. The Cubs are in some sort of rebuilding phase. The cardinals are good but not great and their system really isn’t very strong at the moment. The Brewers are going to be tough as long as they can keep their 3 arms together but that’s only a few more years.
Can’t wait to follow this team in the next 4-6 years.
Opinions vary. Yours is one.
He had one good “season.” It was only 30 something games too. Don’t blow this out of proportion. He’s injury prone, has low OBP skills and middling defense.
2019 and 2020 were both good. OBP is a legit concern. His injury history seems pretty random (forearm, oblique, ankle, knee), so yeah probably a general conditioning thing. But he is also heading into his age 27 season. There’s a good chance we haven’t seen the full potential of a healthy Santander (at least from a power perspective).
He’s an Eddie Rosario type. Minus the postseason performance. Rosario was non tendered. Low OBP corner OF who has to hit to have value.
Trade candidate: Rob Manfred
LOL, true that
I’d like to see Manfred get non-tendered…
Who would want him?
Mullins and Hays both came out of nowhere offensively and we have no idea if they can come close to replicating last seasons numbers. Santander at the very least has been consistent. If Mancini leaves next winter he can always get DH AB’s
Not really. Hays was a highly ranked prospect and Mullins always hit in the minors.
Brock Burke and Steele Walker for Santander if Orioles are interested.
I think Brock Burke is about to put it all together. He’s going to be good next year.
Would have to be for an IF prospect. Os have a ton of OF.
Gwynning's Anal Lover
Santander should be the spokesperson for Santander Bank.
Oriole fans do y’all see Hays or Mullins as being the best player.
kinda hard not to see Mullins as the team’s best player after last year.
I’m surprised Hays is on non Orioles fans’ radars. I think he’s a legit starter. But to answer your question, Mullins. Love the outfield of Mullins and Hays
why wouldn’t he? he was a pretty darn hot prospect for a minute and has done well recently.
I love Austin Hays. Just a hard nosed ballplayer. When Mullins was switch hitting I saw almost no value in him. But from last year it seems Mullins has developed into the better player.
Gwynning's Anal Lover
Willie Mays Hayes is legendary.
“You may run like Mays but you hit like…”
I immediately thought Phillies when I saw this. might be able to be gotten for a reasonable enough return.
They’ve been waiting awhile for him, through injuries and such, and trading him this year would be a mistake IMHO. There’s still a pretty good player in there somewhere, and it would be dumb to trade him a year before a potential breakout.
If he doesn’t break out? Duh, it’s the Orioles; 100 losses either way.
FWIW, Hayes would be the real get. RH hitter, CF capable (at the minimum), some real excitement in his game. Would go after him even before Mullins, who I’m not quite sure is for real (at least at 2021 levels).
This conversation reminds us all how the next CBA has absolutely no chance of doing anything meaningful on the competitiveness/tanking issue.
the fact that the O’s are trading from a position of strength means something about tanking?
The fact the O’s have been bad for several years and are looking to monetize a replacement-level player? I’d like the O’s to be better. I don’t like the strategy that follows a 75 win season with a four year (and counting) tear down where they win slightly less than 1/3 of their games. The owners who control the Commissioner are apparently ok with it.
The only true way to penalize tanking is to either strip teams of draft picks or impose a tax penalty either in the form of forfeiture of revenue sharing dollars or just a direct penalty like going over the luxury tax. Competing costs teams money so make purposely losing cost money too
No one is tanking. Only fans value draft position over wins and losses. There are teams not trying very hard, but no one is hoping for more losses. No one. It’s not a viable strategy.
Or just do a salary cap. It’s a clean line. No subjective “are they tanking or not?” decision. And what about teams that are actually losing money (ala the Pirates a few years back)? The salary cap has worked for the NFL. Lots of parity. More fun for the fans because any given Sunday.
And yes, payroll size does matter. Large market teams have been buying players for the past 100+ years. No, it’s not 100% determinant, but it’s a pretty good predictor of who’s going to be in the conversation. The 3 of the top 4 payroll teams made the playoffs (sorry Met fans). 6 of the top 10 made it. 8 of the top 15 made it. Only Milwaukee and Tampa were in the bottom half.
The current system means smaller market teams have to look for asymetrical ways to game the system to stay in business in the short term and (hopefully) be (more) competitive in the long term by looking for “windows” to compete.
A maximum salary cap also needs to come with a minimum salary sending floor for this to work. The MLBPA is, of course, open to this concept which would also address the “tanking” problem along with a lotto for the top amateur draft picks.
That’s fair to some degree. What’s the floor? $127m payroll was league average in 2021. We don’t have the 2021 revenues and 2020/Covid. In 2019, the Twins had $290m-ish revenues (15th overall). Is the expectation to spend 50% of revenues on player payroll? 33%? A flat $100m? Only 2 teams made the playoffs in 2021 with a payroll less than $100m. Add in normal payroll, marketing, development, facilities, etc…
If the salary cap was reachable by all teams, then there would be no need for a minimum. The vast majority of teams would spend at the MLB level to be competitive because they know W’s and competition is ultimately what drives ticket sales. No floor works in the NFL because every team knows they have a shot at W’s and playoffs if they keep pace with spending.
Maybe some type of burn-in period to get to the floor and/or stabilize the cap.
The MLB is different because the (good teams) also pour a ton of money into developing minor leaguers. The NFL’s development pipeline is college. MLB finances their own pipeline.
May as well keep him. With his injury history and lack of ability to get on base, I highly doubt anyone would give anything up for him. Plus he’s coming off a bad year. The time to move him was 2020.
Well, if the Orioles traded Santander, coming into 2021 who was going to play there? Stevie Wilkinson? DJ Stewart? A dumpster dive with another name?
Had he played well, he could have been traded last summer for a prospect. But now they have to wait and see if they can get something for him this year. On most teams he’s AAA depth or a 4th outfielder, but its a “why not see what he does” situation. Either he gets them a little something or next to nothing, we’re not talking about a franchise-defining “what if” here. He could be a palatable OF starter at his top end. Mullins and Hays are clearly superior talents.
So far the Orioles took a one year flier on a 5+ ERA guy to absorb innings. With Rutschman coming up they’ll be better than last year but still 100+ losses, barring further moves.
Ed "The Mythical One"
Trey Mancini or Ryan Mountcastle. This team is full of “corner OF’ers”” who are actually DH-1B types. Trey has more experience in the OF than Mountcastle, but Trey is older and coming back from colon cancer so they might want to keep him more at DH/1B than the OF.
They also have Ryan McKenna and I am sure they will bring in a few kick the tire veterans on minor league deals to see if any has value.
Santander is a legitimate outfielder. Mancini and Mountcastle are not legit. Maybe if Mountcastle had spent a year in MiLB, his athleticism would have allowed him to battle the position to a draw, but he never got that experience.
Ed "The Mythical One"
Santander is not a “legit” outfielder. He’s a butcher. Mancini has played more pro games in the OF than Santander and is more “legit” than Santander.
I agree with you about Mountcastle. They muffed that pick. How do you draft a first round SS that can’t field any position on the field at all? How did they not realize right away that he couldn’t play SS or 3B, realize they have a logjam at 1B anyway, and immediately make his home the OF for a couple of years?
I also am not as high on Mountcastle’s bat. He relies on an insanely high BABIP (which is not reliable) he doesn’t walk, and he strikes out a lot.
Hard pass by the White Sox. Anthony Santander appears to be a switch-hitting version of Nomar Mazara with less power. The White Sox don’t need another bat in their lineup with above average SO and below average BB numbers.
If GM Rick Hahn can’t sign a much better RF option in free agency (Kris Bryant, Nicholas Castellanos, Seiya Suzuki, Michael Conforto) or trade for one (Mitch Haniger) the team would be better off rolling with internal candidates (Adam Engel, Andrew Vaughn, Gavin Sheets, Micker Adolfo) until one of their fast-tracking Cubans (Yoelqui Cespedes, Oscar Colas) is ready for prime time.
White Sox will be choosing from their own 40 for the RF. If they spend, it will be for a cheap 2B.
The White Sox #1 priority following the lockout should be to address their 2B hole. With a lack of promising short term internal options available, hopefully they won’t go the “cheap” route. They could surprise all White Sox fans and make a run at SS Trevor Story to fill their 2B hole. They could also explore the trade market for impacting candidates like Ketel Marte, Jeff McNeil, Jean Segura or one of two potential Yankees, Gleyber Torres or DJ LeMahieu. All but Marte could potentially involve Craig Kimbrel in a package trade.
The White Sox could also potentially use Kimbrel in a salary swap with the Rays to acquire Kevin Kiermaier who would make an excellent platoon partner with Adam Engle in RF with each also providing added defensive outfield depth as a late game replacement for Eloy Jimenez. Each could also offer injury insurance for CF Luis Robert provided they can also stay healthy, something neither has managed to do with great success in the recent past.
They need a LH bat badly in that lineup. If they can get Conforto on a cheap one or two year deal they should do it, if not, then its likely some platoon of Sheets/Engle in RF next season
The White could get that left-handed RF bat in free agency with Michael Conforto if they are willing to forfeit their second route draft pick and $500k in international bonus pool dollars because of his qualifying offer. They could also add a left-handed bat in a trade with the Mets for Conforto’s former teammate Jeff McNeil to fill their 2B hole. Perhaps they might double down and do both once the lockout ends.
Santander has shown more power than Mazara. But is a 6 months older.
They could get a ton for Mullins & Means, I bet. Mullins was the only 30/30 player last season.
If Santander does not produce this season, the O’s won’t offer him a contract for 2023. He’ll be a non-tendered free agent with remaining arbitration years left on his service time.
Oof, I will probably hear cheers from Cleveland. 200 miles away.
Santander has no market as a sub .300 OBP player. 25/75 players are a dime a dozen. Potentially of some value, but Baltimore isn’t going to get anything better than Santander for Santander.
Yea, the low OBP pretty much kills his value
Only thing they can get is younger… That’s about it.
Thanks guys for the continued content…….I hop on this site a few times a day and am leaning to subscribe….finally……Am 54 and a baseball/Phillies fan since ’74…….No matter what content you post, pretty much guarantee it’s read eagerly by all who visit…..
….and to quote…”thoughts and prayers” for this owner vs player stuff
I think I’ll stick with an F U to the owners, an F U to the players, and thoughts and prayers to the fans, the real people paying for all of this.
Santander was injured half of 2021 and played hurt the other half. His ankle injury turned him from a Gold Glove finalist into a poor defender. It also changed his swing to where he quit using the opposite field and became pull happy from both sides of the plate. There is a lot to like about him,
Peart of the game
I would not be surprised if Santander gets nontendered after a bad season where he’s arbitration eligible after the season. He probably would do poorly if he tried to go to NPB or KBO as guys who don’t draw walks tend to do poorly (Ryon Healy for example)
I would not be surprised if he has a good season. Athletic and has a good swing.
But I could see him non-tendered if he does not have a good season.