Santana agreed to a contract with the Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball on Wednesday, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports. Cleveland declined the 28-year-old's $5 million club option for 2021 in October, and he'll head overseas in an attempt to revitalize his career. Santana had 30 homers and an .876 OPS during 2017, but he bottomed out in 2020 with a .584 OPS in 24 games.
Santana's $5 million team option was declined by Cleveland on Friday, Zack Meisel of The Athletic reports. Santana spent the final month of the season at the alternate training site after being outrighted in early September. However, he'll now become a free agent after hitting .157 with two home runs and 12 RBI during his time in the majors in 2020.
Santana cleared waivers and was outrighted to Cleveland's alternate training site Friday. The 28-year-old was designated for assignment at the start of the week, but he'll remain in the organization after going unclaimed on waivers. Santana never got on track in 2020 with a .157/.298/.286 slash line, two homers and 12 RBI in 84 plate appearances.
The Indians designated Santana for assignment Monday. Santana was cast off the 40-man roster after Cleveland needed to open up a spot Monday shortly after the club dealt away Mike Clevinger and Greg Allen and received three MLB-ready contributors in Austin Hedges, Cal Quantrill and Josh Naylor as part of its six-player return. Naylor will essentially replace Santana as the club's primary left fielder, though the latter already appeared to have lost hold of that job after he was out of the lineup for four of the Indians' past six games. Though he got off to a hot start for Seattle in 2019, Santana has been a disaster offensively dating back to the second half of last season, slashing .140/.262/.256 over 192 plate appearances while striking out 38 percent of the time.
Santana is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Cardinals. Santana's hold on an everyday role in the Cleveland outfield appears to be slipping. With his season batting average dipping to .157 after an 0-for-2 showing in Saturday's 2-1 win, he'll head to the bench for the fourth time in six games. The Indians have given Jordan Luplow, Greg Allen and Mike Freeman starts in left field over that stretch, so manager Terry Francona has yet to settle on a replacement for Santana as the main option at that position.