Phillies reportedly continuing to pursue Carlos Santana

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

It appears that general manager Matt Klentak and the Philadelphia Phillies weren't just checking in on free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana at last week's general manager's meetings. 

According to Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Phillies are among teams that continue to show interest in the 31-year-old free-agent first baseman: 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported last week that the Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and New York Mets were among the 10 plus teams showing interest in Santana. Given Rhys Hoskins' presence on the roster, that caught many off-guard. Heyman reported at the conclusion of the general manager's meetings that the Phillies were "comfortable" with the idea of keeping Hoskins in left field for the foreseeable future.

Hoskins did play a fairly extended amount of time in left field after being called up, though first base remains his natural position. Besides the fact that he's not a natural left fielder, he slashed .316/.442/.658 with an OPS of 1.100 in 76 at-bats while playing first base. In 94 at-bats in left field, Hoskins slashed .213/.359/.585 with an OPS of .944. Hoskins still hit for power when playing in left field, but you would think that with the rather drastic dropoff in batting average he had when playing left field that the Phillies would want to keep Hoskins at first base. 

So what do the Phillies like so much about Santana that they would be willing to push their best young hitter to another position? 

While he hasn't caught in a game since 2014, Santana was a catcher when he broke into the league. Adding him to the team would allow the Phillies to go with the duo of Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp as their two catchers, while still having a veteran influence on the roster for the two. (Presumably, Cameron Rupp will be elsewhere in 2018.)

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Over the past four seasons, Santana has averaged 102 walks per season, something that the Phillies current regime values. Cesar Hernandez, who may not even be on the team in 2018, has led the team in walks three consecutive years. Even he only has a career-high in walks of 66. 

Still, while the Phillies would seemingly like to add a veteran presence like Santana, he seems, at best, like questionable fit. Spotrac projects that he will make $18 million per season in his next contract, which is probably more than you would like to pay someone that slashed .259/.363/.455 in 2017 and has twice hit .231 in a season. 

Unless signing Santana would be followed by a trade of one or more of their outfielders, it would also leave the Phillies with a crowded outfield. Hoskins would presumably get a bulk of the starts in left field, with Odubel Herrera likely to do the same in center field. That would leave Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams competing for at-bats in right field, which would be much to the chagrin of some. However, I examined the possibility late last week that the Phillies front-office may not be as high on Williams as some fans are. 

In the latest edition of the 80-08 Podcast presented by SportsTalkPhilly.com, myself and SportsRadio 94 WIP's Jack Fritz discussed at length how we feel Santana would fit in with the Phillies. You can listen to that below or on iTunes