Earlier today the Reds told backup infielder Ramon Santiago that he has made the roster, as first reported by C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Santiago was a non-roster invitee to spring training, meaning that the Reds will have to make a 40-man roster move in order to place him on the opening day 25-man roster. That move has not been made yet, nor will it have to be until the day before the games begin.
As I wrote yesterday, the Reds are going to face some tough decisions when it comes to choosing how to work with their 40-man roster if they choose to bring on players who aren’t already on it. Who the Reds decide to remove from the roster hasn’t been decided yet, but no matter who it is, they will garner some interest from other teams in baseball. There isn’t a particularly weak option to remove that other teams look at and think that they can’t either use that player or fix that player.
Ramon Santiago has not performed well this spring. He is hitting .225/.295/.275 this spring, which unfortunately looks pretty similar to what he has done each of the last two seasons in the Major Leagues as well (.215/.290/.279). So what does Ramon Santiago bring to the team? Let’s take a look at his strengths and weaknesses.
Santiago can play defense at second base, shortstop and third base. Among those remaining in camp, the only true shortstop options were Santiago and Kristopher Negron. He can lay down the bunt. Over the last two seasons he has bunted 27 times and they have gone for a hit or a sacrifice bunt 18 times. Bryan Price even mentioned this as a strength of his:
And he’s a good situational offensive player. He’s not going to drive in a lot of runs or hit home runs but he moves runners, he bunts well. He’s a scrappy guy with two strikes, puts the ball in play. He knows how to play the situational game and that’s very important.
The infielder can’t hit. He doesn’t hit for average. He doesn’t get on base. He has no power. Offensively speaking, he is among the worst in baseball. He doesn’t bring much to the running game. Since 2004 began he has 10 steals in the Major Leagues and has been caught five times. According to the Fangraphs baserunning metric, over the last five seasons he has been a -1.2 run baserunner.
It is tough to look at a bench player and have them only be able to do one thing for you. Santiago can’t hit at all and he doesn’t bring you speed off of the bench. All that he can do is play defense. With other options that can also play backup shortstop (Kristopher Negron and Chris Nelson) who have more well rounded games and can bring you something else (Negron can also play the outfield and he has good speed; Nelson can cover the infield positions defensively and has some power in his bat that could be used off of the bench) it seems strange to pick the guy with the best glove of the bunch at shortstop when you aren’t going to be using that glove often at all. If an injury were to happen to Zack Cozart, you should be able to acquire an absolutely no hit shortstop with ease. Or you could just call up Kristopher Negron who you already have.