February 26, 2024

Who the Indians Could Look to Add at the Trade Deadline

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Bradford Doolittle of ESPN released an article early Tuesday morning highlighting his way-too-early trade deadline moves around the MLB. Of these moves, he mentions that if the Indians are looking to add pieces to their rosters this summer, Milwaukee Brewers OF Domingo Santana appears to be Doolittle’s choice for the Tribe’s upgrade.

Now, for the sake of argument, let’s take a deeper look at Santana’s game, shall we?

The Indians are one of the most complete teams in the majors and it doesn’t come with sacrificing youth for veteran players. Santana definitely had a breakout year for the Brewers last season posting 30 homers, 85 RBI while hitting a modest .278. Throw in 15 stolen bases and the fact that he is entering his age-25 season, Santana’s numbers could be the perfect complement to what we hope Bradley Zimmer could be, all while being a key right-handed hitter in a lineup that subtracted a switch hitter in Carlos Santana and is populated with lefties.

Taking a look at his hitting tendencies, Santana shows a knack for hitting his homers, as well as most of his flyballs, to right field. Given that Progressive Field, aka The Jake (for true Clevelanders_, has distances of 325 feet to 375 feet from right field to that power alley in right-center, Santana can thrive hitting in Cleveland. Another takeaway is that Santana is simply a hitter that likes to use the entire field and with a career BABIP (batting average on balls in play) average of .354, he knows where to put the ball where the defenders aren’t.

Santana pulls pitches he puts into play 35.7% of the time, hits pitches up the middle 35.2% of the time and hits pitches to the opposite field 29.1% of the time, according to FanGraphs.com. At a difference of only 6.6%, Santana is capable of hitting the ball wherever he needs to get a base hit and while power hitters naturally pull the ball a majority of the time, I mentioned earlier that most of his homers are hit to right field. Hitting the ball the other way is a bit of a lost art in today’s game of selling out for the long ball and slap bunts, but Santana shows he is a very capable hitter with an almost natural inside-out swing that can produce big.

Looking at his 2017 season alone, fans should have excitement from what they see. 29 doubles, a .371 OBP and .875 OPS are all good or great and it is encouraging to know that Santana has consistently improved his numbers every year going back to his Houston Astros days.

Domingo Santana spray chart via mlbfarm.com

“Santana specializes in line drives, but they tend to be on the higher end of the line drive spectrum, bordering on fly balls. Meaning, he can generate a lot of value in terms of doubles and home runs.” – FanGraphs.com

Outfielders Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain recently joined the fray in Milwaukee and all will be pushing for playing time with Ryan Braun and Keon Broxton as incumbents. The Brewers can afford to lose him, arguably and the Indians can only benefit. As mentioned earlier, Santana is only 25-years-old and has not yet acquired enough service time to qualify for arbitration or free agency. 2019 is the first year that Santana will be arbitration eligible and if the Indians play their cards right, the team can lock him down and control his rights well past his 2022 free agency year should he prove to be a productive player in the future.

The addition of Santana is no guarantee and the season has not even started yet, but it doesn’t mean fans cannot speculate on who would involve in a swap should the team want him. The Indians have assets to use at their leisure and, without gutting the farm system, players like Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis or a pitcher could see their name floated about.

Brantley and Kipnis are both on the other side of 30 years old and recent memory shows both players attempting to come off injury-plagued seasons. Although both have been key players in the team’s recent successes (minus 2016 for Brantley and 2017 for Kipnis), there is no telling on how they will look in the upcoming season as the team attempts to make its second World Series appearance in three years and win its first championship since 1948.

All of this could change come midsummer when the trade deadline approaches, but it’s time to get excited about this season because it starts next week. A six-month, 162-game marathon that all of us believe without a doubt will end with the Indians hoisting the Commissioner’s Trophy in October.

 

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