The Cons of Signing Domingo Santana
While Domingo Santana brings a decent bat to the table, his outfield defense is significantly below-average.
That is part of the reason why the Mariners decided against tendering the outfielder a contract for 2020.
He has spent the bulk of his career in right field, but has experience in both left field and center field as well. However, this does not mean that he has the requisite versatility and ability to play in the middle of the field.
Over the course of his career, Santana has posted -31 DRS and -21.6 UZR. Those metrics clearly paint an ugly picture of his defensive work.
Is there any hope for improvement?
As recently as 2018, Santana was a net positive with the glove when he recorded 6 DRS in left field.
After years of trending negatively defensively, the outfielder began to show improvement in his final season with the Brewers. A trade to the Mariners brought the return of his below-average defense, but sometimes these metrics do not capture the entire story.
Defensive metrics such as DRS and UZR are among the more reliable metrics available to evaluate defense, but a team’s shifting strategy can also set the player up for success or failure.
That could very well have been the case for Santana in 2019, as the Mariners generated -86 DRS as a team, which was the third-worst mark in baseball.
They could have overlooked defense when they assembled their 2019 roster, but a poor shifting strategy could have played a role as well.
With all that being said, Santana seems destined to be a designated hitter in the latter stages of his career. That would not make him a long-term fit for a National League team such as the Giants.
On a different note, Santana’s offensive profile is concerning as well in that he has struck out in 31.9 percent of his plate appearances.
Despite the power he brings, that high strikeout rate makes it difficult to generate positive value with the bat, considering he’s not even making contact in nearly one-third of his plate appearances.
In adding a player like Santana, the Giants must evaluate whether his track record of above-average production at the plate out outweighs his defensive deficiencies.
There is no question that the Giants have the payroll flexibility and positional need to add Santana. While he is an imperfect fit, the Giants are doing a high volume of shopping in the imperfect fit aisle of the free agency department store, so you never know.