Carlos Santana’s team-first attitude attracted Phillies
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Carlos Santana’s unselfish attitude made him a perfect fit for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Santana’s $60 million, three-year deal with a club option was finalized Wednesday, when he was introduced at a news conference. New manager Gabe Kapler helped Santana put on a white-and-red pinstriped jersey and general manager Matt Klentak handed him a red Phillies cap.
”I’m excited,” Santana said. ”I know Philly has a lot of younger players, but my decision to sign here was because they want me, they believe in me.”
Santana gets a $10 million signing bonus payable within 60 days of the contract’s approval by the commissioner’s office and salaries of $15 million next year, $17 million in 2019 and $17.5 million in 2020. Philadelphia’s 2021 option is for $17.5 million with a $500,000 buyout.
Santana had spent all eight of his big league seasons in Cleveland. He hit 23 home runs with 79 RBIs in 2017. The 31-year-old switch-hitter has batted .249 with a .365 on-base percentage and has averaged 24 homers and 81 RBIs in his career.
The Phillies placed high value on his ability to draw walks and work the count. Santana has averaged 98 walks per season.
”It’s our goal to put forth a lineup every day one through eight of players who grind at-bats, take pitches, work walks, hit for power, make opposing pitchers work,” Klentak said. ”There are few players in baseball who are as good at that as Carlos.”
Kapler said it’s more likely that Santana will play first base with slugger Rhys Hoskins in left field. But he also praised Santana’s willingness to do whatever it takes to win and put the team first. Santana has batted fourth or fifth in the lineup in 66 percent (729 of 1,102) of his career starts but also has hit leadoff 122 times.
”He can handle any part of the lineup,” Kapler said.
The Phillies lost their clubhouse leader when they traded shortstop Freddy Galvis to San Diego. Santana is expected to help fill that void. He’s been part of a winning environment with the Indians and understands the importance of team chemistry.
”This is a guy who can demonstrate (leadership) characteristics and it’s important to him,” Kapler said.
The addition of Santana gives the Phillies a surplus of solid outfielders. Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr each have shown they can be regular players. Klentak said that doesn’t mean he’ll make a trade because new-school baseball requires versatility and flexibility on a roster.
Despite finishing last in the NL East at 66-96, the Phillies improved in the second half as young players like Hoskins, Williams, J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro joined the lineup. They were 35-35 in the last 70 games and 39-37 overall against NL East opponents.
Adding Santana seemingly accelerates the rebuilding process.
”We’re genuinely excited about the organization’s future,” Klentak said.
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