Three Switch-Hitting Outfield Targets for the SF Giants
2. Danny Santana
Since the December 2 non-tender deadline, the SF Giants have been active on players who were late entrants to free agency. Matt Wisler and John Brebbia were non-tendered by the Minnesota Twins and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively, and both have inked deals with the Giants in recent weeks.
Danny Santana is in the same boat as Wisler and Brebbia. While the fact that Wisler and Brebbia became free agents was a mild surprise, the same cannot necessarily be said about Santana after a rough 2020 campaign.
Santana was signed by the Twins as an international free agent during the 2007-2008 J2 signing period. He spent parts of four seasons with the Twins before being shipped to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for reliever Kevin Chapman. He became a free agent again following the 2018 season but then latched on with the Texas Rangers for the next two seasons.
Since debuting in 2014, the switch-hitter has demonstrated good power, but he has struggled with plate discipline and consistency. In that time, he has slashed .260/.299/.418 (90 OPS+) with 42 home runs and 188 RBI. However, this comes with a rough 4.6 percent walk rate against a 25.8 percent strikeout rate, so it is not an ideal fit, but he has value as a power bat coming off of the bench.
Speaking of consistency, 28 of his 42 career home runs came in a breakout season in 2019 where he posted an .857 OPS (112 OPS+) in 511 plate appearances. He followed this up with a tough 2020 season where he registered a .145/.238/.273 (39 OPS+) line with only one home run and seven RBI.
The Rangers’ decision to non-tender was not a surprise as he would have been due a raise on his $3.6 million salary from 2020. That said, Santana’s poor numbers could be a result of some small sample tomfoolery. While his surface-level stats were rough, it did come with a healthy 90.9-MPH exit velocity and a 14.7-degree launch angle. An unusually low .223 BABIP and a 38.1 percent strikeout rate contributed to his rough season, but the batted ball profile suggests that he was a better hitter than that.
In the field, the 30-year-old has experience all around the field. With the Rangers, Santana spent the bulk of his time in the outfield or at first base, but he did spot start at shortstop, third base, and second base as well. Given that many of the Giants position players are relatively one-dimensional with the glove, Santana would bring some much-needed versatility to the roster.
The switch-hitter is still on a rookie contract, so he would basically sign on for a one-year deal at a rate that would not be higher than his 2020 salary. A move that the Giants can afford with some nice upside.