These days, it does seem like the Chicago Cubs are being "loosely connected" to every player in Major League Baseball. Some have picked up more smoke than others, but it's important to stay updated on any news that occurs. This time, it's former general manager Jim Bowden with his list of targets for the Chicago Cubs. On that list, a new face that we haven't seen be connected yet is Baltimore Orioles outfielder Anthony Santander. To be honest, I've liked quite a few of the players I've seen in Cubs' rumors this offseason. Santander fits that mold as well. But does he make sense for the Cubs?
Let's look at the particulars here. Santander has spent his entire career in Baltimore. He has a career slash of .245/.300/.454. This past season, he did have a breakout year in the power department, which we'll get into, but still managed to slash just .240/.318/.455. Certainly not terrible by any means, but you'd like to see the batting average get back to where it was in 2019 and 2020 when he batted just north of .260 two years in a row.
How about that power though? In 2022, Santander launched a career-high 33 home runs while driving in 89 RBI. He also appeared in over 150 games for the first time this season, He missed a total of about 5-6 weeks in 2021 with various injuries which limited him to 110 contests. Looking at Santander's splits is pretty wild. He is a switch-hitter after all, and against RHPs he slashed just .221/.301/.420 with a 109 wRC+ this season. However, against southpaws, Santander's slash rose to an intriguing .293/.365/.548 with a wRC+ of 159. That number against lefties is accompanied by an ISO of .255.
In the outfield though, Santander is primarily a right fielder which doesn't exactly mesh well with what the Cubs are truly in need of. Ian Happ and Seiya Suzuki are already manning the corner outfield spots. So unless Jed Hoyer is ok with moving Suzuki to centerfield, the sense of trading for Santander pretty much halts in its track there. However, should the Cubs miss on Cody Bellinger and decide Kevin Keirmaier isn't the impact bat that they want, Santander is a solid addition to the lineup in the trade market if the Cubs just fall into a place where they have no choice but to figure it out defensively.
Anthony Santander would fill the Chicago Cubs' need for power.
Contract-wise, Santander has two years of team control left. He recorded a 2.1 WAR on the 2022 campaign, marking a career-high, and if he has figured something out in the power department, he may be worth taking a look at if it comes to the Cubs needing to make a trade for an outfielder. His salary of 3.15MM this season figures to go up via arbitration, but it certainly wouldn't be something that breaks the bank for the Cubs financially. In fact, he costs a lot cheaper than either Cody Bellinger or Michael Conforto. The question would be: What will it take to get him in a trade if the Cubs have to pull the trigger?
Regardless, after missing on Jose Abreu, the Cubs probably feel some pressure and realize they can't just sit idly by and wait while their main targets slip away. Landing a centerfielder is extremely ideal and where you now probably want to see the Cubs focus their energy. We know the elite shortstops aren't signing anything soon. The mission must be to grab as many solid players as possible to show the bigger fish out there that Chicago is an attractive and competitive place to play baseball again.