Yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the knee injury that ended Carlos Santana’s fantastic rookie season and by coincidence the Indians are playing a series against the Red Sox at Fenway Park, where the home plate collision took place.
Santana hasn’t rediscovered the same success he had prior to Ryan Kalish running him over, but the switch-hitting Indians catcher has still been plenty valuable as a sophomore.
Santana is hitting just .229, which is 31 points lower than his rookie mark, but that poor batting average comes with 15 homers, 19 doubles, and 68 walks in 102 games for a .771 OPS that ranks eighth among the 28 catchers with at least 200 plate appearances.
Cleveland has kept Santana in the lineup more often than other catchers by starting him 33 times at first base, but he’s done a decent job behind the plate with a 4.14 ERA and 22 percent throw-out rate.
Santana hasn’t turned into the immediate MVP candidate some people expected, but that’s tough enough for a young player without having to come back from a major injury and he still ranks 32nd among AL position players in Wins Above Replacement. He’s already very good and still on track to become great.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.