Danny Santana put up a career year for the Texas Rangers last season as a utility player. Can he find a permanent spot for the club next season?
In a year that the Texas Rangers took some flyers on a number of players, perhaps nobody excelled better than Danny Santana. The 29-year old outfielder hit .283 with an .857 OPS on the year with his average at or around the .300 mark for much of the season. He emerged as one of the better players the Rangers had especially at the plate. Defensively, he bounced around a lot as Texas looked to get him in the lineup whenever they could. He posted an 11.6 offensive fWAR and -9.8 defensive fWAR good for a 1.9 overall.
Defensively, Santana doesn’t seem to have a truly natural fit although he performed well at second base and with an offseason of work, could be solid at first. He also got work in the outfield throughout the year. The best fit for Santana seems to be at second base but Texas has the problem of Rougned Odor being under a large contract and despite underperforming, being the de facto starter. Based off performance alone Santana should be getting the time at second but as of now, it still seems like it’s Odor’s spot.
Santana got some time at short but that was just as a filler and there really isn’t a scenario, barring long-term injury to Andrus, where he gets regular time there. He could get work at first base but he does not really offer the natural pop at the plate you usually desire out of a first baseman despite his 28 homers last year. Plus, Ronald Guzman played well after getting called back up from his stint in the minors and Texas surely wants to evaluate him as the long-term fit.
The only true position where Santana could get regular playing time is in center field where Delino DeShields got the majority of the time after Joey Gallo went down with injury. Gallo is set to return this year and will walk right into the lineup but his best fit is in right field. The Rangers would have to make a couple of moves to open up right field for Gallo, but it they do, it could mean Santana gets the spot in center.
DeShields had a pretty good year in 2019 and offers more than Santana defensively but isn’t quite the offensive threat. With the way Santana played in 2019, he’s earned a starting spot whether in Arlington or somewhere else, at least in the short term. Entering 2020, he’s likely to still bounce around as Texas fights to keep in the lineup but it’ll be interesting if they try to get him consistent work at one spot and make him a permanent part of the everyday squad.