Colorado Rockies: Will this be their big free agent signing?

Sep 23, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana (41) celebrates his solo home run in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana (41) celebrates his solo home run in the second inning against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Colorado Rockies could use some help at first base heading into the 2021 season. Could this free agent first baseman be the answer?

We know two things about the Colorado Rockies heading into the 2021 season. First, there are plenty of positions where the Rockies could use an offensive upgrade, including first base. Second, we know that money will likely not be freely flowing out of the Coors Field coffers after owner Dick Monfort took time in his letter to season ticket holders to remind them of baseball’s COVID-19-related losses this season and “a new economic reality” that was here.

So, knowing those two factors, could free agent first baseman Carlos Santana be a fit at 20th and Blake? According to this article from MLB.com, absolutely, as Will Leitch predicts that the 34-year-old Santana will sign a one-year deal with the Rockies.

In his 11-year career, Santana has shown he can mash the ball (averaging 26 homers over a 162-game span throughout his career) and he can also get on base other ways, including using a keen eye to draw more than 100 walks in 2018 and 2019 and leading the American League in free passes last season with 47.

Per Baseball-Reference.com, Daniel Murphy and Josh Fuentes led a first base effort for the Rockies in 2020 that produced -0.5 WAR. Even in a down year last season, Santana logged 0.6 bWAR.

How big would that be for the Rockies heading into 2021? As MLB.com’s Mike Petriello said in this article where the Rockies were ranked 30th out of 30 MLB teams in terms of WAR heading into 2021, “(Nolan) Arenado, (Trevor) Story and Charlie Blackmon are projected to contribute 8.3 WAR in 2021. All other Rockies hitters combine to project for -3.3 WAR.” Yikes.

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Just how down was last season for Santana? Playing all 60 games at first base for the Cleveland Indians, Santana slashed .199/.349/.350 with a 91 OPS+. All numbers were career lows, and were numbers that likely reduced Santana’s asking price heading into this offseason.

Santana is coming off a year where he earned $20.5 million with the Indians, and Cleveland declined his $17.5 million option for 2021, making him a free agent. Those are both numbers that could well be above what Colorado is willing to pay. However, with Santana turning 35 on April 8 and coming off a tough year in a baseball economy where big contracts could be scarce, the Rockies and Santana could have the opportunity to take a chance on each other for a season.

If the Rockies were to sign Santana (and not trade Nolan Arenado or Trevor Story this offseason), it would likely mean that Fuentes would move into more of a utility player role while Ryan McMahon could focus on second base, with Garrett Hampson and/or Brendan Rodgers potentially spelling him there.

Next. The numbers it might take to keep Trevor Story long-term. dark

On paper, it seems to be a good fit. But will the price be right for the Rockies? That could be the biggest puzzle piece to fit into this tantalizing situation.

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