Carlos Santana Signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates

close up photography of four baseballs on green lawn grasses

No, I do not mean the musician Carlos Santana, who is awesome, by the way. I mean Carlos Santana the Major League Baseball player, who was awesome for most of his career. Santana has scuffled a bit the past couple of years, although he’s still a serviceable ball player. The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to be of that opinion, as well, giving Santana a one-year contract worth roughly $7 million, $6,725,000 to be more precise.

As MLB Trade Rumors has already pointed out, this is the largest free agent signing the Pirates have made since before the 2017 season. If that sounds ridiculous, well, it very much is, because the Pirates simply don’t spend money. On paper, this isn’t a bad signing in any regard. But, it is a bit of a head-scratcher considering that the Pirates traded for first baseman/designated hitter Ji-Man Choi already and claimed Lewin Diaz off of waivers. So, they’ve already created a bit of a log jam for themselves.

But, while Choi is a very good hitter against right-handed pitching, he struggles mightily against left-handed pitching. Diaz is probably only going to DH against left-handed pitching, so it makes sense that the Pirates would seek a third wheel for the 1st base/DH platoon.

Also, the 12-year Major League Baseball veteran Santana is obviously the most proven of the trio by a long shot. Even in 2022 when he batted only .202, his .316 on-base percentage, and .376 slugging percentage in a season dominated by pitching was still enough for him to be league average. Even first baseman/DH times that provide league average offense don’t grow on trees. The Pirates are hoping that he offers them roughly an extra win worth of value, and Santana projects to be worth exactly 1.0 WAR according to FanGraphs Steamer Projections when according for playing even part-time.

Overall, this is a good move for the Pirates, giving them someone who can provide good enough offense and positive defense at first base when he plays the field on occasion. These are the kinds of signings that can help make a bad team respectable. It’s a good signing for the front office led by former Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington.

Writing words, spreading love, Amelia Desertsong primarily writes creative nonfiction articles, as well as dabbling in baseball, Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, and whatever else tickles her fancy.

4 thoughts on “Carlos Santana Signs with the Pittsburgh Pirates

  1. Carlos Santana was a fabulous midseason addition to the Seattle Mariners, last season. While he had some stupendous clutch hits still wearing his holdover, non-matching Kansas City Royals batting gloves, his veteran leadership in the Mariners clubhouse down the stretch was probably his most valuable asset to a young team. At this stage in his career, I wonder how happy he’ll be, playing for the Pirates? He’ll be closer to home, at least. His family lost a lot of their belongings last season when their house in Florida caught fire, that was terrible. I couldn’t imagine dealing with something like that in the middle of the season.

    A funny moment last season involving Carlos was a prank some of the younger Mariners players, pulled on him. Before one of his at-bats, they stuck a bubble gum sticker on the front of his helmet. Somehow, Santana went through the entire at-bat with this goofy sticker stuck to the front of his dirty helmet. I kept thinking the home plate umpire would surely call a uniform timeout to put an end to the young players’ nonsense at Carlos’s expense. But nope, Carlos continued the tense at-bat with the bubble gum sticker plastered to his helmet. He ended up hitting a home run, that at bat. Back in the dugout, the younger players revealed they’d stuck the piece of paper smack-dab to the front of his helmet. Santana’s such a good sport, they all laughed and hugged about it, it was a cute moment between the veteran and young up-and-comers (like Julio Rodriguez, our budding superstar). It’s just a silly thing, but it reflected the high likability factor of the Mariners roster.

    Thanks for the update on Santana, Amelia.

    1. I didn’t know that fire happened last year to Santana. But like you, I think Carlos still has something in the tank, despite many of the experts I follow thinking his contract was a waste. I see it as him being a veteran influence on the youngsters. You can’t measure that in WAR but veteran leadership is definitely a real thing as you alluded to, and Santana is among the most respected players in the game for sure. 🙂

  2. Signing Santana and Choi is the kind of thing the Rays would do, and that strategy has worked fairly well.

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