The Mets have claimed right-hander Dennis Santana off waivers from the Twins, tweets Dan Hayes of The Athletic. Santana is out of minor league options, and the Twins apparently attempted to pass him through waivers after deciding he wouldn’t break camp with the club. Minnesota claimed Santana off waivers from the Braves earlier in spring training.
Santana, 27 next month, once ranked as one of the top pitching prospects in a stacked Dodgers system but has begun to bounce around the waiver circuit after tough stints both in Los Angeles and Texas. He’s appeared in parts of five big league seasons but logged a 5.12 ERA (4.43 SIERA) in 139 innings.
Last season with the Rangers, Santana averaged a blistering 97.7 mph on his four seamer and 96.7 mph on his sinker. However, he still posted a below-average 21.2% strikeout rate with a bloated 11% walk rate en route to a 5.22 earned run average. Command has been an issue throughout his big league career, evidenced by his penchant for free passes (career 11.8% walk rate). That said, he’s consistently generated swinging strikes at an above-average rate (11.4% in 2022, 11.7% career) and induced chases on pitches off the plate at a high level as well (34.3% in 2022, 33.3% career).
Since Opening Day 2021, Santana has gone from the Dodgers to the Rangers (by way of a small trade), to the Braves (in exchange for cash), to the Twins (via waivers) and now to the Mets. This latest claim certainly doesn’t mean he’s a lock to win a bullpen spot with the Mets over the next two weeks, although the injuries to Edwin Diaz and Sam Coonrod have thinned out the Mets’ relief corps and opened up some competition.
Santana will join a group of candidates including righties Jeff Brigham and Stephen Ridings — both on the 40-man roster — as well as non-roster veterans like Tommy Hunter, T.J. McFarland and Jimmy Yacabonis. If he doesn’t win a spot, the Mets could attempt to pass him through waivers to retain him as organizational depth, just as both the Twins and Braves have unsuccessfully attempted to do this spring It wouldn’t at all be surprising to see GM Billy Eppler add further pieces from outside the organization. The Mets are known to have scouted Zack Britton as recently as yesterday — their third time watching him throw since the calendar flipped to 2023.
As for the Twins, Santana’s departure could re-open the door for hard-throwing righty Trevor Megill — the brother of Mets righty Tylor Megill — to make the Opening Day roster. It’s also possible that a non-roster player like Jeff Hoffman, Danny Coulombe or Jose De Leon could take that spot. Additionally, Minnesota has at least mulled the possibility of a six-man rotation, and there’s now an open roster spot that could be allocated to towering righty Bailey Ober, who looks like the sixth starter behind the projected front five of Pablo Lopez, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda.