The Red Sox and veteran utilityman Danny Santana are in agreement on a minor league deal, as noted on the team’s transactions log at MLB.com. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Santana will head to the team’s spring facility in Fort Myers before eventually joining their Triple-A affiliate in Worcester. Santana has not yet played in a professional game this season, as he’s been serving an 80-game suspension following a positive PED test.
Santana, 31, spent the 2021 season in the Red Sox organization as well, appearing in 38 big league games but hitting just .181/.252/.345 in 127 trips to the plate. The switch-hitter posted huge minor league numbers in Boston’s system last season but did so in just 76 plate appearances, several of which came in Class-A Advanced and Double-A as he worked back from an injury.
It’s been a boom-or-bust big league career for Santana, who burst onto the scene with the 2014 Twins and would surely have finished higher in Rookie of the Year voting had he not been up against Jose Abreu’s MVP-caliber rookie campaign. Santana hit .319/.353/.472 in 430 plate appearances as a rookie, popping seven homers, 27 doubles and seven triples while also swiping 20 bags. He looked to have seized an everyday spot in Minnesota’s lineup for years to come, but his production completely evaporated in 2015.
Santana was out of the Twins organization by 2017 and continued floundering with the Braves in parts of two seasons there. Overall, he followed that incredible MLB debut with four seasons and 735 plate appearances of .219/.256/.319 output at the plate.
Santana caught on with the 2019 Rangers and delivered an out-of-the-blue .283/.324/.534 batting line with 28 home runs, 23 doubles, six triples and 21 steals. That resurgence came amid what’s widely regarded as the “juiced ball” season, however, and has mustered only a .170/.247/.322 slash in 190 plate appearances since that time. Injuries — most notably elbow surgery and foot surgery — have slowed him during that time, but Santana’s massive 2019 showing certainly appears anomalous in nature, given the surrounding seven seasons of context.
It’s little more than a depth pickup for the Sox, who have placed a premium on acquiring versatile players of this ilk in recent seasons. Santana’s first run with the team didn’t prove productive, obviously, but he’ll nonetheless return and give the Sox some cover in the event of injuries down the stretch (or, perhaps, some trades of veterans currently on the roster).