Cincinnati Reds: Free agent options to platoon with Joey Votto at first base

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 25: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 25: Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images) /
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Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after hitting a solo home run.
CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 23: Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after hitting a solo home run. (Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images) /

Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians

At age-34, Carlos Santana would not be a longterm solution at first base for the Cincinnati Reds. But the former Cleveland first baseman would give David Bell an above-average defender to replace Votto late in games and a switch-hitting power bat off the bench. Santana hit just .199 last season, but still owned a .349 on-base percentage.

Santana was an All-Star in 2019, slashing .281/.397/.515 with 34 home runs and 93 RBIs. The former backstop racked up 47 walks this season to lead the league. Santana accumulated more than 100 free passes in three of the previous five full seasons.

In terms of defense, Carlos Santana was tied for third in the American League with five defensive runs saved. According to FanGraphs, after putting up -11 DRS in 2015, has had three seasons in which he’s accounted for four or more defensive runs saved.

Another advantage to adding Santana is his bat. The Dominican native is a switch hitter, something that would no doubt make David Bell salivate. We’ve seen over his two seasons at the helm how much the Reds skipper enjoys playing the lefty-righty matchups. For his career, there’s not a steep drop-off in terms of production for Santana whether he faces a right-handed or left-handed pitcher.

Working out a contract with Carlos Santana may be a huge sticking point for the former Indians first baseman. Santana’s $17.5M option was not picked up by Cleveland, but the slugger is sure to be looking for a starting spot and sizable salary heading into 2021. Platooning with Votto may not appeal to Santana, but the market may dictate what role he takes next season.