- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 188 lb.
- Born April 8, 1986 in Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional, D.R.
Carlos Santana is an infielder-catcher who made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians in 2010.
Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by scout Andres Lopez for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004, Santana was traded to the Indians along with Jon Meloan on July 26, 2008 in return for 3B Casey Blake. While he had already been considered a prospect before that year, he took a huge step forward in 2008, hitting .326 in 130 games between three teams, playing almost exclusively in Class A ball. It was not an empty batting average, either, as he banged out 39 doubles and 21 homers, drove in 117 runs and drew 89 walks. He was named the California League MVP after the season.
In 2009, he spent a full season in AA with the Akron Aeros of the Eastern League and hit .290, again showing excellent power (30 2B and 23 HR). He played in the Futures Game that year. By then he was near the top of all minor league prospect lists, and started right where he had left off when promoted to AAA Columbus to start 2010. He hit .316 in 57 games, with 14 doubles and 13 homers, for a batting line of .316/.447/.597.
With nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, Santana was promoted to Cleveland in early June, 2010. After going hitless in his major league debut, his bat came alive, and after 9 games, he was hitting .393 with 5 doubles and 2 homers, seemingly finding major league hurlers no more challenging than his opponents over the previous three seasons in the bushes. Overall, he hit .260/.401/.467 in 46 games, but his season ended with an injury suffered on August 2 in a collision at home plate with the Boston Red Sox's Ryan Kalish.
On April 3, 2011, making his first career start at first base against the Chicago White Sox, Santana started a triple play by diving to catch a bunt popped along the first base line by Alexei Ramirez; both baserunners, Carlos Quentin and A.J. Pierzynski, were running on the play and were doubled off easily when Santana relayed to 2B Orlando Cabrera, covering first base, who in turn lazily flipped the ball to SS Asdrubal Cabrera who was standing on second base while Quentin did not even attempt to return.
Santana had a very unusual batting line in the first two months of the 2014 season. On May 27th, he was leading the American League in walks with 43 and had managed 7 doubles and 6 homers, but his batting average was an awful .159. He did lead the AL in walks with 113 at the end of the year, but also improved some of his other numbers, with a .231 batting average, 25 doubles, 27 homers and 85 RBIs in 152 games. Thanks to all the walks, his OBP was a solid .365 and his OPS+ 127. He had a very similar year in 2015, when he again hit .231 and drove in 85 runs, although his home run total fell to 19. He had an excellent year in 2016, when Cleveland made it to Game 7 of the World Series, as he slugged 34 homers and drove in 87 runs in addition to his customary excellent OBP (.366) in 158 games. He had just 10 hits and 4 RBIs in 10 postseason games, however. In 2017, he again hit .259, but with 23 homers and 79 RBIs. Again, he had a disappointing postseason, hitting .211 with 1 homer and 4 RBIs as the Indians lost to the New York Yankees in the Division Series.
On December 15, 2017, he signed a three-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies worth $60 million. That forced the Phillies to use Rhys Hoskins in left field, where his defence left a lot to be desired, while Santana did not give them the production they were hoping for. He started off stone cold, hitting .153 and slugging .276 in April, and even though he did better after that, he still ended up at .229 with 24 homers and 86 RBIs. While he still at an OBP of .352, thanks to 110 walks, it was also below his career mark. After the season, which ended in disappointment with the Phils missing the postseason after contending most of the year, Philadelphia decided to move him, although the two expensive years remaining on his contract made that a challenge. However, they did manage to do so by taking on another large contract, that of SS Jean Segura, accompanied by Ps Juan Nicasio and James Pazos, forcing the Seattle Mariners to accept the first baseman in order to receive one interesting prospect in the deal which was concluded on December 3rd. He only stayed with Seattle 10 days, as on December 13th he was traded back to his former team, the Indians, in exchange for DH Edwin Encarnacion.
Carlos' first homer in his second stint with the Indians was of the walk-off variety, on April 5, 2019. It came off Joe Biagini of the Toronto Blue Jays with one out in the bottom of the 9th and the solo shot gave Cleveland a 3-2 win. He went on to play 158 games that season and became an All-Star for the first time as he hit .281 with 34 homers, 93 RBIs and an OBP of .397. Discounting his 46-game rookie season in 2010, it was the highest batting average and OBP of his career, and he also set marks for slugging percentage (.515), RBIs, runs scored (110), hits (161), homers and total bases (295). In 2020, in a season abbreviated to 60 games by the Coronavirus pandemic, he played in every regular season game and led the AL in walks with 47, although his other numbers fell drastically. He hit just .199, although the numerous walks meant his OBP was still good at .349, while his slugging percentage was just .350. He hit just 7 doubles and 8 homers, scored 34 runs and drove in 30. His OPS+ of 91 was the lowest of his career, and indeed the first time it had fallen below 100 (even in his sole disappointing season with the Phillies, it had been 105 thanks to his excellent batting eye). The Indians did return to the postseason, although they lost both of the games they played against the New York Yankees in the Wild Card Series. Carlos went 0 for 8 with a walk and a run scored in the two games.
The three-year contract he had originally signed with the Phillies expired after the 2020 season, and on December 8th, he changed teams again, signing a two-year deal this time, with the Indians' divisional rivals, the Kansas City Royals. Its total value was said to be $17.5 million. He appeared in 158 games in 2021, his first season with the Royals and hit .214 with 19 homers and 69 RBIs. His OPS+ dipped to 80, the lowest of his career by a good margin. In 2022, in 52 games for Kansas City, he managed to bring his OPS+ back to 98, although his batting average remained low at .216, and he hit just 4 homers. However, a significant rise in his walk rate meant that his OBP was closer to his career norms. Still, there was talk of the Royals cutting his playing time significantly in order to give one of their best prospects, Vinnie Pasquantino, an opportunity to play. This is what happened on June 27th, when the Royals traded him to the Seattle Mariners, following an injury to 1B Ty France. In return, the Mariners gave up a couple of pitchers, Wyatt Mills and William Fleming, the latter still in Class A, and received $4.3 million to cover part of Santana's remaining salary. He batted .192 in 79 games for Seattle, with 15 homers and 39 RBIs for an OPS+ of 101. Overall, his end of season numbers were .202 in 131 games, with 19 homers and 60 RBIs. The Mariners returned to the postseason after an absence of more than two decades, and he went 2 for 8 with a double and a homer as they upset the Toronto Blue Jays in the Wild Card Series, then 3 for 14 as they were swept by the Houston Astros in the Division Series.
Santana became a free agent again after the 2022 season and on November 29th signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was expected in 2023 to platoon at first base with Ji-Man Choi, another off-season addition.
- 2008 Player of the Year California League Inland Empire 66ers
- 2009 Player of the Year Eastern League Akron Aeros
- AL All-Star (2019)
- AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (2019/1B)
- 2-time AL Bases on Balls Leader (2014 & 2020)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 7 (2011, 2013, 2014 & 2016-2019)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 2 (2016 & 2019)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (2019)
- Associated Press: "Indians' Santana savoring his storybook All-Star season", USA Today, July 8, 2019. 
- Mandy Bell: "Santana rouses home fans, falls to Derby champ: Tribe All-Star 'emotional' amid park support, which included Carrasco", mlb.com, July 9, 2019. 
- Jeffrey Flanagan: "Carlos Santana signs 2-year deal with KC", mlb.com, December 8, 2020. 
- Daniel Kramer: "Mariners boost depth, get slugger Santana", mlb.com, June 27, 2022. 
- Andrew Simon: "Santana brings history of consistency to Phillies: Durability, on-base skills, solid glove should not be overlooked", mlb.com, December 16, 2017. 
We're Social...for Statheads
Every Sports Reference Social Media Account
Site Last Updated:
Question, Comment, Feedback, or Correction?
Subscribe to our Free Email Newsletter
Subscribe to Stathead Baseball: Get your first month FREE
Your All-Access Ticket to the Baseball Reference Database
Do you have a sports website? Or write about sports? We have tools and resources that can help you use sports data. Find out more.