The Rangers announced they’ve traded reliever Dennis Santana to the Braves in exchange for cash considerations. Atlanta designated Jackson Stephens for assignment in a corresponding 40-man roster move.
Santana soaked up plenty 0f middle relief innings in Arlington, pitching 58 2/3 frames across 63 outings. He generally struggled over that stretch, posting a 5.22 ERA with a below-average 21.2% strikeout percentage and an elevated 11% walk rate. The right-hander has posted subpar strikeout and walk marks throughout his parts of five seasons in the majors with the Dodgers and Rangers, contributing to a career 5.12 ERA over 139 innings.
The 26-year-old has flashed some interesting traits that suggest he could yet be a productive MLB bullpen arm. He’s gotten swinging strikes between 11% and 12% of his total offerings the past couple seasons, a solid enough rate. Santana has also induced ground-balls on almost half the batted balls against him the last couple years, and his sinker sat just under 97 MPH this past season. He had some success against left and right-handed hitters alike, but he was victimized by an extremely low strand rate that’s likely to bounce back moving forward.
Santana is out of minor league option years, so he’ll have to break camp on the Atlanta roster or be made available to other teams. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects him to receive a $1.1MM salary if tendered an arbitration contract, and the Braves’ acquisition suggests they could be prepared to do so this week. That’d figure to give him an inside shot at securing a middle relief role out of Spring Training.
Stephens inked a minor league deal with Atlanta over the offseason. He cracked the big league roster a few days into the year and wound up tallying 53 2/3 innings across 39 outings. The 28-year-old had a solid 3.69 ERA with a decent 46.3% grounder percentage but a 20% strikeout rate. Stephens’ swing-and-miss rate also sat at a subpar 9.3%, and the Braves have elected to roll the dice on Santana’s upside in swapping out potential middle innings arms.
Atlanta will have a week to deal Stephens or run him through waivers. If he goes unclaimed, he’d have the right to become a minor league free agent.