Will Carlos Santana Play 1st Base or DH for Minnesota Twins?

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins finally made a couple of splashes in free agency over the weekend. To strengthen their lineup, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey signed former Twins killer for the Cleveland Guardians, Carlos Santana to a one-year deal worth $5.25 million.

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Santana, who will be 38 in April, split his time between Pittsburgh and Milwaukee last season. Across 146 games, he recorded a .240 batting average with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs. He was traded to the Brewers on July 27 and primarily served as a first baseman/designated hitter for their playoff run.

What Position Will Carlos Santana Play for Twins?

Carlos Santana tosses baseball underhand
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

When the trade for Carlos Santana first happened, it was mostly reported as a move to strengthen the Twins’ designated hitter position, with Byron Buxton expected to return to center field for most of his starts in 2024.

But a closer look puts that assumption in danger. Why? Because it doesn’t take much research before you realize that, while Santana hasn’t won a gold glove at 1st base during his career, he’s been a finalist multiple times, including last season. Alex Kirilloff is a good defensive 1st baseman but he was raised as an outfielder and certainly isn’t Gold Glove caliber, at this point in his career.

Carlos Santana has played 1,930 Major League Baseball games during his 14-year career and over 1,200 of them he’s been written in at 1B. That doesn’t guarantee anything for 2024 but it does mean Alex Kirilloff and other possible first basemen have their work cut out for them this season, if they want any reps on the right side corner of the infield.

Minnesota Twins insider has Santana playing everyday 1B

Minnesota Twins beat reporter and insider Bobby Nightengale (Star Tribune) gave his educated opinion on who plays where in Sunday’s paper. Guess who he has playing 1B vs both lefties and righties. The switch-hitting Santana.

“Santana has been an everyday starter since 2011, but he has provided slightly below league-average production against righties for the past three seasons. Santana’s presence could push Kirilloff into more time at designated hitter because Santana was a Gold Glove finalist at first base last year.”

Bobby Nightengale – Star Tribune

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Over the course of his career, Santana has performed slightly better against left-handers than right-handers. Against lefties, Nightengale has Santana batting in the heart of the lineup (5th), but drops him down to 9th vs righties.

4. Jeffers, DH7. Alex Kirilloff, DH
5. Santana, 1B8. Ryan Jeffers, C
7. Kyle Farmer, 2B9. Santana, 1B

I’m in agreement with Bobby. Should he remain healthy, I expect Carlos Santana to be the Minnesota Twins primary first baseman this season. Kirilloff will still get his run there, because the Twins will want him to get better at his new position, especially if he looks good at the plate. But Santana will be the every day starter.

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