Many people would argue that the story of the early season has been Evan Gattis — El Oso Blanco — the Braves’ backup catcher who has seemingly come out of nowhere to put up some pretty impressive power numbers for a 26 year-old rookie. And with all of the attention on Gattis, it’s understandable if one overlooks the guy he backs up. That’d be Brian McCann, who smacked two homers today — one in the 10th inning — to lead the Braves past the Blue Jays 7-6 in a sloppy getaway day game.
The reason Gattis had the opportunity to become a story is because McCann started the season on the DL. But since he’s come back all he’s done is hit .281/.354/.614 with six home runs, 14 RBI and a .968 OPS in 16 games. That has left Gattis with less playing time, obviously. But not without opportunities to shine. He hit a homer today as he played behind the plate, giving McCann a chance to DH in the AL park.
As for the Braves and Jays, they do both getaway. Both to Atlanta, as they complete the final two games of their four-game series at Turner Field tomorrow and Thursday.
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.