The KC Royals have a good NL DH candidate who should attract attention.
Few things should excite NL teams looking for a DH more than the prospect of landing a proven switch-hitting power hitter with a knack for getting on base. And that’s just what Kansas City has in Carlos Santana.
The Royals signed Santana last winter in a move that seemed as shrewd as it was surprising. The club got the first baseman they’d been searching for since Eric Hosmer left and added a valuable bat. Santana arrived with a reputation for power (240 career home runs), a penchant for reaching base (.366 OBP), and a decent glove. And Kauffman Stadium was where he hit best.
The early returns were good. Santana singled and walked three times in six Opening Day plate appearances, finished April with six homers, 20 RBIs and a .363 OBP, then hit four more home runs and had a .398 OBP in May. He hit the All-Star Break with 15 homers and a .246/.368/.421 line favorably comparable to the .248/.366/.446 career mark he brought to KC.
Unfortunately, a hip injury hampered him in the second half and he ended the season with 19 homers and a .214 average.
Nevertheless, and assuming he’s healthy, Santana is a good NL DH candidate. He hits from both sides, still has power at 35, and hasn’t lost the ability to find his way onto the basepaths. And because he’s entering his contract season, Santana is certain to be shopped at the trade deadline.
But the Royals should delay marketing Santana only if they doubt Nick Pratto’s readiness. Pratto, the organization’s No. 2 prospect per MLB Pipeline, exploded last season with 36 home runs, 98 RBIs and a serviceable .265 average between Double-A and Triple-A, and hit six more homers and drove in 12 more runs at Omaha in only two more games than he played at Northwest Arkansas.
Trying to move Santana to the NL as soon as the lockout ends is the right move.