DENVER -- The Rockies are taking a hard look at switch-hitting free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana as a run-producing corner bat, a source has told MLB.com. The club has not confirmed the pursuit of Santana.Santana, who turns 32 on April 8, batted .259 with a .363 on-base percentage, a .455
DENVER -- The Rockies are taking a hard look at switch-hitting free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana as a run-producing corner bat, a source has told MLB.com. The club has not confirmed the pursuit of Santana.
Santana, who turns 32 on April 8, batted .259 with a .363 on-base percentage, a .455 slugging percentage, 23 home runs and 79 RBIs last season, after a career-high 34-homer/.865 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) season in 2016.
Word spread during Monday's first full day of the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., that the Rockies had real interest in Santana.
According to MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman, the Indians' top offer on a contract extension was three years and $36 million before Santana hit the open market. The Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported that the Rangers, Padres, Phillies, Red Sox and Mariners are among the teams showing interest.
Other reports have the Rockies interested in Jay Bruce, who had a combined 36 homers and 101 RBIs for the Mets and Indians last season, and Logan Morrison, who hit 38 homers for the Rays in 2017. However, the Rockies are believed to have a stronger interest in Santana than either Bruce or Morrison.
It stands to reason that any power hitter would love to play at Coors Field. In that vein, here is a look at Santana's spray chart and how it would look at Coors:
A former catcher, Santana transitioned to designated hitter and first base. Multiple observers say he has blossomed into an above-average defender at first -- an important factor for the Rockies. Third baseman Nolan Arenado makes daring plays, and needs a dependable first baseman -- the way Mark Reynolds was the past two seasons -- to handle the difficult throws.
Also, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, like Arenado a decorated defender at the end of 2017, and shortstop Trevor Story, whom the Rockies feel should have been a Rawlings Gold Glove Award finalist, also make difficult plays and daring throws.
Santana's presence could free Ian Desmond from some first-base responsibility. Desmond took up the position last year, after signing for five years and $70 million, but has greater experience in the outfield, where the Rockies are looking to fill the void opened by Carlos Gonzalez's free agency.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.