Santana, 38, has long been a case study to look past batting average. Sure, he's had decent averages at times, notably hitting .281 in 2019, but his walks and power make him much more an OPS guy with the bat in his hands. He's topped 100 walks in a season four times and 90 four other times. He's a career .242 hitter with a .356 on-base percentage and .432 slugging.
Last season, Santana was traded from the Pirates to the Brewers in front of the deadline. In 146 games between the two stops, he hit .240/.318/.429 (103 OPS+). As illustrated by the slash line, Santana's OPS skills are waning but he's still above average heading into his age-38 season. He also had 33 doubles, 23 homers and 86 RBI in 2023.
All this is to say that Santana could be a cheap needle-mover at the plate. Though he came up as a catcher, he hasn't been behind the plate since 2014. He can serve as a DH and will do so at times moving forward, but he's taken to first in the field. He rates out well with several advanced defensive metrics at first and was a Gold Glove finalist in the NL in 2023.
With the Twins, Santana will be the right-handed bat president Derek Falvey alluded to after. The veteran will provide some versatility to manager Rocco Baldelli's platoon-heavy lineup, as well as some stability at first, where the expected plan was a platoon of Alex Kirilloff, who has yet to stay healthy in his three seasons in the majors, and Jose Miranda, who almost unplayably bad in 2023 before being shut down and undergoing surgery for a torn rotator cuff.
Minnesota is aiming to repeat as winners of the AL Central, but the Tigers have had a sneakily interesting offseason, adding Mark Canha, Kenta Maeda, Jack Flaherty, Andrew Chafin and Shelby Miller, among others, as well as. , while the Guardians hope to be competitive again. The White Sox have yet to trade away Dylan Cease as well.