The Cincinnati Reds announced that they have signed infielder Cristian Santana to a minor league deal for 2022 that includes an invitation to spring training.

Cristian Santana will be 25-years-old when spring training begins. The corner infielder has never reached the Major Leagues and he spent all of the 2021 season in Triple-A while in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

This past season he played mostly third base, but did see some time at first base and a handful of games as the designated hitter in Oklahoma City. In 91 games he hit .311/.331/.444 with 20 doubles, 8 home runs, just 11 walks, and he struck out 68 times. The low walk total has followed him for his entire career. He’s only walked 79 times in 517 career minor league games and never more than 20 times in a single season – though he has topped 415 plate appearances in a year once. Still, his walk rate of 3.7% is at the bottom of the barrel in terms of walk rates among professionals.

At one point in his career he was inside of the Los Angeles Dodgers Top 30 prospects at Baseball America after the 2019 season, coming in at the #15 spot. Despite there being no minor league season in 2020 he fell out of the top 30.

Cristian Santana has plus raw power, but he doesn’t get to use it much due to his pitch recognition issues that leave him unable to take advantage of that kind of pop. Scouting reports from Baseball America have long noted his struggles with secondary pitches. Despite that, though, he’s generally hit for a quality average. But without many walks, his on-base percentage has been low throughout his career. There’s some upside in the bat, but he’s going to have to do something most hitters who never drew walks in the minors do – figure out how to recognize the breaking ball and draw more walks at the highest level.

Defensively he doesn’t stick out with the glove. In fact, he’s struggled defensively at third base throughout his career. His .926 fielding percentage in 2021 was easily the best of his career at the position. Santana does have a plus arm to work with. He has seen action at first base at times over the last four seasons, but he hasn’t exactly stood out there, either, with a .979 career fielding percentage there (MLB average fielding percentage at first is .993).

26 Responses

  1. AllTheHype

    A less disciplined Jose Peraza with more power.

  2. LDS

    Just a AAA depth move? The article suggests that few ever solve their problems at this stage of their career.

  3. Melvin

    Just what we need. lol Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! 🙂

    • Ryan

      Hey Melvin they are “building a winner”!

      • Melvin

        Always shooting for and satisfied with “average at best”. 🙂

  4. Redsvol

    A ton of teams doing nothing or next to nothing up to this point. Big market Red Sox signing wacha (yawn). Except for giants, angels, and now Mets, not much going on with free agents. Teams seem to be waiting for the new CBA. Cohen’s going to figure out you can’t simply spend your way to a pennant – they’ll have to develop some too.

    • AllTheHype

      You haven’t been paying attention to the FA pitching market.

    • Old-school

      MLB activity is exploding

      Cards sign matz $44 mil
      Twins sign Buxton $100 mil
      Gausman expected to sign
      Garcia signs with Marlins
      Rays Kluber
      Semien Rangers

      Uncle Walt with his Flip phone turned off at the condo in the Villages

  5. Hotto4Votto

    Whew, I was sweating how they were going to replace Robbie Tenerowicz once he became a FA.

  6. 56andredfan

    Didn’t know you were running private club. I am a lifetime red fan and have been checking out your blog for a while. Didn’t know why my entry didn’t pass your review. Thought it was my mistake. Was. Will not read another one as I must be too new to have an opinion

    • Randy in Chatt

      Doug monitors all new IP addresses/email addresses just in case it is spam or just a troll. Don’t take it personally. You would do the same if you ran a website.

    • Doug Gray

      You’ve posted two comments, including this one, in the last month. Both were approved. I have no idea what you are talking about. But as Randy notes (though slightly incorrectly because I don’t monitor it, there’s software on the backend that does) – first time commenters need to have their first one approved by someone before their future comments just go through without review.

      Why does that have to be done? Well, in the last year there have been over 45,000 “robot/spam” comments submitted that have been blocked automatically. There’s been another couple thousand that weren’t automatically blocked and then had to be manually reviewed and marked as spam. Without the process of first-approval the comments section would be unbearable with just absolute garbage linking to nefarious websites. No one wants that.

  7. J

    Constructive criticism:
    I think it’s a safe bet that Redleg Nation readers could infer the correct team name with a headline such as “free agent infielder Cristian Santana signed.” Under previous ownership, my recollection is that the term “Cincinnati Reds” was usually reserved for dramatic/comedic effect, as in a headline such as: “The Cincinnati Reds win a major league baseball game” after a 9-game losing streak. Maybe I’m unusual in this regard, and obviously it’s not *my* blog, but the constant “Cincinnati Reds do X” and “Cincinnati Reds do Y” has grown tiresome, and I think it makes the site seem a bit silly. It would be like the New York Times constantly running headlines like “Gas prices higher in the United States of America” or “United State President Joe Biden to address United States Congress.” At some point, you’ve just gotta trust the reader to infer which president or baseball team you’re talking about.

    • Doug Gray

      Constructive answer: Having Cincinnati Reds in the title is the difference between Google actually telling people the article exists and not telling people the article exist. Without it saying Reds it’s probably cutting off 75% of the traffic. It’s basically a must include or we’re out of business. Do I hate it? A little bit. But do I have to do it in order to pay the bills? Yes.

    • LWBlogger2

      As Doug said… When someone does a search on Google for “Cincinnati Reds” or even “Reds” having that “Cincinnati Reds” in the title of the article makes all the difference.

  8. J

    Fair enough. That makes it a lot easier to pretend it’s not there.

  9. JR Davis

    Well the management of the team has woken up. I was wondering if they were asleep at the wheel or maybe didn’t realize they could make any moves to add to the team. I am being sarcastic, I guess it just frustrates me seeing activity of other teams whole the Reds sit it out.

    • Redsvol

      JR – hardly any team is doing anything. Padres just traded an All-Star utility player for 2 non-prospects for what I assume has to be salary relief. Unless you’re owned by Steve Cohen, just sit tight till the next CBA is agreed to.

  10. Michael B. Green

    I like this signing. Perfect for depth. He was once a pretty highly touted prospect and is a talented hitter.

    • TR

      Possible DH or late inning pinch hitter.

  11. BF

    If the Reds had done nothing today, there would be nothing for these commenters to complain about. There’s nothing wrong with adding minor league depth.

    • J

      Context matters. If a guy robs your house and steals your car on Monday, and then sends you a $10 Amazon gift card on Tuesday, I have a hunch you’re going to complain about the gift card. And I wonder how you’d feel if someone criticized you for complaining because “there’s nothing wrong with a guy sending you a $10 gift card.”

      • greenmtred

        How did the Reds manage to get into your house and steal your car? I get that many of us aren’t happy with the early days of the this off-season, but signing a guy for minor league depth is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

      • BF

        Yes context matters, but the Reds didn’t break into anyone’s house. A team has to work within a budget and maintain the organization at all levels. Sadly, we Reds fans have to temper our expectations. One shouldn’t expect ANY potential owner of the small-market Reds to fill the roster with top free agents. They scrimped for many years and then made a run at it in 2020. That team failed miserably to live up to expectations in the short season. The all-or-nothing offensive approach in 2020 made for a boring product on the field and one that rarely succeeded. Now, after two years of empty seats at GABP, I imagine that the budget is pretty small. But it’s early in the preseason and this move does not determine the major league roster for 2022.

  12. MK

    Nice signing. The young man hit his way off the island, didn’t walk off the island. Found an old Times article that called him Pedro Guerrero of 21st Century.

    • LWBlogger2

      Pedro or Vlad? If he’s either, I’d take it. I doubt he’s either, but you never know.