The Indians are going to give catcher Carlos Santana the Victor Martinez treatment:
Next thing on Santana’s spring-training checklist is learning how to play first base. Eduardo Perez and Mike Hargrove, former first basemen and recently hired by the Indians, will help him in the weeks to come.
Santana — who played third when he was in the Dodgers organization — is expected to play some Cactus League games at first, but there’s no plan to actually give him time at first during the regular season.
At least for now. It would devalue his bat an awful lot to move him from behind the plate — the most valuable defensive position — to first base — the least valuable one. But it’s also the case that (a) Santana’s bat could reasonably carry first base anyway; and (b) he’s not the best catcher the world has ever seen.
I don’t know what the defensive metrics or scouting reports say about him, but I watched him catch several times in Columbus last year, sitting right behind home plate. My sense: he’s kinda shaky. He does little things that make you feel like he’s not comfortable. He stands up out of his squat between pitches more than a lot of guys do. He shifts around and reaches for balls more. Maybe a lot of that is his pitching staff, but he doesn’t seem like a born catcher in any real way apart from his physique.
You give Santana every chance imaginable to catch of course, but teaching him a little first base ain’t the worst idea in the world.
Twins right-hander Phil Hughes is headed to the Padres, according to announcements from both teams on Sunday. The Padres will also receive the 74th overall draft pick and cash considerations from the Twins, who are getting minor league catcher Janigson Villalobos in return. Minnesota is expected to absorb $7.5 million of Hughes’ $22 million contract; per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, they’ll take on his remaining salary for the 2018 season and pay an additional $5.7 million in 2019.
Hughes, 31, is far from the 16-win, sub-4.00 ERA hurler the Twins enjoyed in 2014. He hasn’t pitched more than 60 innings in any season since 2015, due in part to multiple bouts of back stiffness and shoulder surgeries. He was designated for assignment last week after missing significant time with a left oblique strain and delivering a 6.75 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 6.0 SO/9 through his first 12 innings of 2018.
Villalobos, meanwhile, will provide the Twins with some depth as he continues to work his way through the minor league system. The 21-year-old backstop recently completed a circuit with the Padres’ rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League, slashing .275/.367/.388 with eight extra bases and a .755 OPS in 98 PA.
The real get for the Padres isn’t Hughes (even with much of his salary already accounted for), but the Competitive Balance B selection in next week’s amateur draft. As MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell points out, the club lost their second-round pick after inking Eric Hosmer to a massive eight-year, $144 million deal back in February.