A long time NL Central rival could be a free agent target for the Pittsburgh Pirates as the team searches for outfield help and right-handed pop this offseason
This offseason, general manager Ben Cherington will be looking to accomplish a lot for the Pittsburgh Pirates. While his biggest goal will be to trade some of the organization’s established MLB talent for young prospects, another goal will likely be outfield help.
In addition to needing outfield help, the Pittsburgh Pirates could also use more right-handed power at the MLB level. One potential free agent target that could help with both of these needs is Domingo Santana.
Santana is a name Pirate fans should be familiar with. While he has spent the past two seasons in the American League, he had previously spent three and a half seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Last season, Santana accumulated 84 plate appearances in 24 games played for the Cleveland Indians. Santana struggled to the tune of a .157/.298/.286 slash line, .129 isolated power and a wRC+ of 64 in the worst season of his MLB career.
In his career, Santana has hit for a .255/.341/.446 slash line in 1919 PAs in 516 games. His career ISO is .192 and wRC+ is 110. So, prior to 2020, Santana had always been a consistent right-handed power bat.
Santana plays the corner outfield positions which could help the Pirates with their need for outfield help. Throughout his MLB career he has mashed left-handed pitching. He owns a lifetime .456 slugging percentage, .207 ISO, 113 wRC+, and 13.2% walk rate against LHP.
Santana is also a hitter that has always hit the ball hard. His average career exit velocity is 89.3 MPH, this a full MPH higher than the league average. His lifetime hard hit rate is 41.8%, which is nearly 7 points higher than MLB average.
During the 2020 season these numbers took a bit of a step backward for Santana. His average exit velocity was just 85.5 MPH while his hard hit rate fell to 33.3%. That said, since it was in a COVID ravaged season and came across just 84 PAs, stock should be put into Santana’s career numbers, not his 2020 struggles.
While Gregory Polanco will likely begin the 2021 season in right field for the Pittsburgh Pirates, his struggles against LHP in his career are well documented. Santana could provide a great platoon partner for Polanco. Additionally, if Polanco, and/or Bryan Reynolds, 2020 struggles return in 2021, Santana could find himself with regular playing time, not just as a platoon guy.