Phillies Rumors: Club reportedly showing interest in 1B Carlos Santana

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Phillies, to the shock of many, appear to seriously be considering one of the top free-agent first baseman on the market. 

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Phillies are among a slew of teams interested in free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana:

The Mets, Angels and Phillies are new surprise players for Indians free agent first baseman Carlos Santana in what could wind up being spirited bidding for the second-best first-base option on the market.

On one hand, interest in Santana shouldn't be that surprising. While he doesn't catch anymore, he 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. 

Santana, who will be 32 in April, slashed .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 79 RBIs, while also walking at a strong rate. Santana walked 88 times in 2017, while Cesar Hernandez led the Phillies with 61 walks. General manager Matt Klentak values players who get on base at a high clip, and probably also feels the need to add a few veterans presences to what will be a talented, but very inexperienced team. 

On the other hand, Santana is a first baseman, that would be signing a fairly lucrative contract to join a team that doesn't need a first baseman. Not only would it take edging out what appears to be a pretty large market to obtain Santana, but since he's got a qualifying offer attached to him, the Phillies would have to surrender draft compensation to sign him. Spotrac projects that Santana will get a deal that allows him to make $18 million per season. You don't surrender draft compensation and pay someone $18 million to be a bench piece. 

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Rhys Hoskins did play a fairly extended amount of time in left field after being called up, though he's still probably better suited to be at first base. 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 fist 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 hitters tend to be more comfortable at the plate when they are playing a position in the field that they feel comfortable at. 

Hoskins playing left field would also cause a chain-reaction in the outfield that would push one of Nick Williams or Aaron Altherr to the bench fairly regularly. Unless the team plans to trade one of those two for starting pitching, that idea is a bit perplexing. 

The guess here is that while the Phillies may have interest in Santana, they are unlikely to outspend teams where Santana is a more natural fit. 

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