Roster-setting day makes minor moves the theme

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Friday was the last day for teams to add prospects to the 40-man roster in advance of next month’s Rule 5 draft. That resulted in plenty of minor moves of interest mostly to geeks like me:
*The Red Sox claimed reliever Robert Manuel off waivers from the Mariners.
Manuel, 26, was the return from the Reds for Wladimir Balentien this summer. He had a 1.25 ERA and a 103/18 K/BB ratio in 86 2/3 innings while spending most of 2008 in Double-A and a 2.88 ERA and a 49/16 K/BB ratio in 65 2/3 innings for two Triple-A teams last season. Still, no one takes him very seriously because he’s primarily a high-80s guy and his slider doesn’t have a whole lot of break. He deserves an extended chance, but he’ll be a long shot to make the Red Sox out of spring training.
*The White Sox added former shortstop Sergio Santos to their 40-man roster.
Working as a reliever for the first time, Santos, the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick in 2002, had an 8.16 ERA and a 30/20 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings in four minor league stops last season. He’s currently at 6.14 with a 20/10 K/BB ratio in 14 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Obviously, the White Sox see some promise here. What makes this especially interesting, though, is that, as far as I can tell, Santos is out of options, having used them all up during his time as an infield prospect.
That means he’ll have to clear waivers if the White Sox want to send him down at the end of the spring. In theory, they would have had a better chance of keeping him had they declined to protect him now, since if he went unpicked in the Rule 5 draft, he wouldn’t have had to go on waivers next spring.
*The Orioles claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Reds.
It’s hard to believe the Orioles could find room for another standard-issue No. 3 catcher on their 40-man, but not Steve Johnson, the second prospect they acquired along with Josh Bell from the Dodgers for George Sherrill. Johnson went 12-7 with a 3.41 ERA and a 154/62 K/BB ratio in 145 1/3 IP between Single-A and Double-A last season, but he’ll be available to everyone in the Rule 5 draft.
Tatum is a fine defender, but he brings absolutely nothing to the table from an offensive standpoint. He’s minor league-contract material.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.