We’ve talked a lot over the last couple of months about how clear it is that the Red Sox are prioritizing depth this season, and even with spring training starting they are keeping that trend going. According to Julian McWilliams of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox have agreed to terms with former Rangers utility man Danny Santana on a minor-league deal.
Source: the Red Sox have signed INF/OF Danny Santana to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.— Julian McWilliams (@byJulianMack) March 4, 2021
Jon Heyman had previously mentioned the possibility.
Red Sox are among teams in the final mix for versatile INF-OF Danny Santana. Boston already had signed Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez. They obviously like versatility.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 4, 2021
Santana is someone who had made some sense, not only because he fits that versatility trend mentioned above, but also because he has experience at shortstop and center field, both of which are weak for Boston in terms of depth. We mentioned him as a possibility for a minor-league deal last month. But the 30-year-old is a true super utility man, having played every spot besides catcher and pitcher back in 2019.
The offense, for the most part, has been weak over his career, having posted a wRC+ of 60 or lower (meaning he was at least 40 percent worse than league-average) in five of the last six seasons. However, 2019 bucked that trend when he broke out with a 111 wRC+ before falling back to a mark of 40 in last summer’s shortened season. He is a switch-hitter who has been slightly better against righties against his career than lefties.
For the Red Sox, it is well worth the hope they can recapture some of that 2019 magic since this is a minor-league deal that carries virtually no risk. As I mentioned above, he provides some depth at positions of need, which is the main consideration. It is also worth noting that the reintroduction of the Alternate Site, at least for the month of April, makes it easier to carry these kinds of veterans on minor-league deals.
It’s unclear if Santana has an opt out at the end of camp, but if he remains in the organization he would almost certainly be heading to Worcester at the Alternate Site. The Red Sox would be able to take some players who would otherwise be slated for Triple-A but not expected to get a call in the month of April, Jeter Downs and Bryan Mata for example, and keep them in Fort Myers while veterans like Santana get some run at the Alternate Site with a chance to fill in as bench depth if necessary early in the season.
That’s all down the road, though. For now, Santana will join the team down in Fort Myers and look to prove that he can be something resembling that 2019 version of himself again.
Update (3/7; 9:55 PM ET)
It’s been made official.