Let’s play a game. I’ll give you a real-life baseball scenario, you tell me where it took place:
A 23-year-old third baseman hits a walkoff three-run home run in front of a raucous sellout home crowd.
Gotta be a place like Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, New York, or St. Louis, right? Where sellouts are commonplace and top prospects perform like they’re supposed to. No, that was a scene from PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Saturday.
Pedro Alvarez, 23, has blasted 10 home runs in his first 163 major league at-bats and played the hero on Saturday evening in front of a massive crowd that was aided by the promise of a George Thorogood post-game concert. Dejan Kovaceivc of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote this morning that it was “one of the great finishes in PNC Park history,” and there’s no doubting that.
The Pirates have struggled through some really rough seasons in the past decade and they’re going to finish 2010 with a losing record for the 18th straight year. But Alvarez and players like Andrew McCutchen have allowed the fans in Pittsburgh to imagine a light at the end of the tunnel.
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.