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Free agency rumor grade: Angels interested in Carlos Santana

Everybody is focused on Shohei Ohtani, but there are other free agents out there.

Divisional Round - Cleveland Indians v New York Yankees - Game Four Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

The Hot Stove has been all but frigid this offseason, at least so far. As everyone watches out for Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton to make their decisions, every other possible deal has basically come to be a standstill.

With the exception of more minor signings like ... Mike Minor, for example, the top names on this year’s free agency list are still out there in the pool of players yet unsigned. So let’s grade some rumors. Since that’s all we have to hold on to right now.

The rumor

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi is reporting that even though the Angels are one of the chosen few teams that still have a shot at landing Shohei Ohtani, they aren’t resting on their laurels there and letting other opportunities fall by the wayside. They’re also interested in signing Carlos Santana.

Why it makes sense for the Angels

For one, because he’s one of the best first baseman on the market. Along with Eric Hosmer, a team with money that is looking for a new man at first this offseason is going to target Santana. And it won’t take as much money to land him as it will Hosmer.

While with Cleveland in 2017, Santana hit 23 home runs with an OPS+ of 112. While his batting average (.259) and OBP (.363) last season were practically identical to the year before, he hit 11 less homers (he’s averaged a year 24 since 2011). At only 31 he could be reliably productive for four to five more seasons as long as everything goes to plan. Or he could end up needing to be pushed to the DH slot earlier than anticipated because of his age and sliding performance at first.

But Santana is good. We all know this. The Angels need to add pieces that can drive in runs rather than counting on Mike Trout to propel them to the playoffs (or fall short again) every year. And Albert Pujols is certainly not going to fulfill that need any time soon.

The Angels’ roster ranked third-to-last in batting average and 24th in home runs hit in 2017, so even taking into account the possible downsides of his defensive abilities, adding Santana would be of immediate benefit .

Why it makes sense for Carlos Santana

This is a bit trickier. The money, sure, but he’s spent his entire career with the Indians and while he is surely seeing what he’s worth on the open market (he turned down Cleveland’s qualifying offer) there’s also a slim chance that he will sign another multi-year deal worth more than the qualifying amount and spend the next half-decade back with the only team he’s ever known.

There are other teams interested in his talents too, not just Anaheim. Of course. The Yankees for one, and probably a few other suitors that are monitoring the market for now before letting their interest be known.

So that’s not to say this wouldn’t be a fun offer for him to take should he decide he wants to switch up his home base. Santana and Trout on the same team for the next few years? West Coast baseball getting yet another home run-happy player to watch? Santana could easily take over for C.J. Cron in Anaheim and succeed at first with a few DH appearances mixed in as needed. So there’s a chance.

Rumor grade

B+. While there’s no doubt the Angels have interest in Santana, whether that interest is returned in any serious way is another story. However, Morosi couches his reporting with that qualifier as well so it’s not on us to dock the rumor’s grade because it’s not realistic that Santana would pack his backs and head to Anaheim. What does make sense is that the Angels would want him on their team, so this is a legit rumor in my eyes.