Carlos Santana came to Seattle as a hunk of the Jean Segura trade to Philadelphia. He was the veteran ballplayer hunk that came with young shortstop J.P. Crawford. An all-star first baseman who had a sub-career average year with the Phillies after signing a pretty rich contract.
It was also evident he wouldn’t be a Mariner for long. Limited to first base or DH, and packing two years left on his $17.5 million contract, the handwriting was on the wall the M’s would do their best to trade him before the season began. Today, with time expiring at the Winter Meetings, they did just that.
Too bad the M’s couldn’t have made this trade last year. With his career average .247/..363/.442 slash line and 25 homers and 106 walks per year, Santana would be the best first baseman the Mariners have had since Russell Branyan. How much better would the M’s have been managing first base than Ryon Healy? Hell, who knows, that ship has sailed.
In fact Carlos has sailed off to Cleveland, from whence he migrated to Philadelphia in 2018. Of all the “interesting” trades” the M’s have made this season, this tops the list for particularly weird circumstances.
Let’s start with the fact that it’s a three team deal involving the Seattle, Cleveland, and of course, Tampa Bay. The M’s send Santana to Cleveland and they receive 1B-DH Edwin Encarnacion. They also receive Cleveland’s pick in the Competitive Balance phase of the June draft, number 77 overall. Not good enough for an elite draft choice, but not chopped liver either. Because this is mostly a trade of over-priced contracts, the M’s also sent the Indians $6 million.
The M’s aren’t as involved in the second leg of the draft as the Indians sent minor league outfielder Yandy Diaz and RHP Cole Pulsipher to the Rays for 1B/OF Jake Bauers. The Rays also slipped the Mariners $5 million in a manila envelope, unmarked bills to finish things up. No, I don’t understand, go figure.
So the M’s get Encarnacion, a draft pick, and lose a million bucks in a weird transaction. The big slugger is already rumored to be headed out of town, perhaps to Tampa Bay for a prospect, and doubtless accompanied by a bag of cash. to pay down the $24 million the big guy is owed for 2019.
Strange trade. It feels a lot like a trade of over priced contracts, as the Mariners do their best to pare down some of the hefty veteran promissory notes that began with Segura and Nicasio, wound through Santana and ends, for the moment, with Encarnacion. With this deal, the Mariners would save $11 million on the two year deal owed to Santana, veruss the one year deal owed Encarnacion. It’s sort of like when I was a kid, and my mom would serve something I didn’t like for dinner. If I just moved it around my plate long enough, lo and behold my peas would disappear. I’m waiting to see how they deal Encarnacion and what they can do to continue shrinking that guaranteed money.
I am, in some ways, sad to see Santana go. He is a control the zone kind of hitter, with power and plays good defense. Hopefully, the M’s haven’t outsmarted themselves and don’t end up stuck with Encarnacion. I really would prefer to see what a year of Vogelbach as a DH, and a year of Healy at 1B looks like. Can they help us, or not?