Santander, 29, is coming off yet another solid season as a potent middle-of-the-order bat with the Orioles. The switch hitter slugged 28 home runs in 2023 while batting .257/.325/.472. That line translated to a wRC+ of 119, indicating he was 19% better than the league average hitter overall. His defense isn’t considered as strong as his offense but his glovework received better grades last year than it did in 2022.
This is his fourth arbitration season, as he was a Super Two player going into 2021. He and the O’s went to a hearing that year, with the club winning and paying him a salary of $2.1MM, as opposed to his filing number of $2.475MM. He then avoided arbitration in each subsequent campaign, earning $3.15MM in 2022 and $7.4MM last year before this year’s bump into eight-figure territory. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a bump to $12.7MM, though Santander will come in a bit below that.
Due to the O’s avoiding notable free agent deals, Santander will remarkably be second on the club in terms of the salary the O’s are paying. Craig Kimbrel is at the top of he list, making a $12MM salary and he has a $1MM buyout on a 2025 option. James McCann is also set to make $12MM this year but the Mets are paying $8MM of that as part of the trade they made with the O’s just over a year ago.
Due to the club’s surplus of outfielders and position players in general, there has been some speculation the O’s would use that to line up a trade for some pitching. There’s still plenty of time for that to happen but nothing significant has happened thus far. That leaves Santander in the corner outfield/designated hitter mix alongside guys like Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O’Hearn, Sam Hilliard, Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser, Ryan McKenna and Kyle Stowers. Santander is slated to become a free agent after the 2024 season.