What were the expectations?
Danny Santana was drafted by the Twins in 2008 and played in their minor league system going back and forth from the majors until 2014. In his rookie season he posted eye popping numbers for the Twins with a .319/.353/.472 slash line over 101 games but in his second full season at the major league level he posted an abysmal .215/.241/.291 slash line. After going back and forth from Triple-A to the majors trying to replicate that magical rookie season, the Twins decided to trade Santana to the Braves in a mid-year change-of-scenery move.
Santana’s first few games with the Braves were absolutely brutal, and a continuation of why he was jettisoned from the Twins after posting a 49 wRC+ in 26 PAs in 2017, and a sub-50 wRC+ over 525 combined PAs in 2015 and 2016. He went hitless in his first 18 PAs as a Brave, drawing just one walk in that span, and finished his first calendar month with a -4 wRC+ (yes, that’s a negative). He then had a brief glimmer of productivity, putting up a 124 wRC+ in June courtesy of a .355 BABIP in 47 PAs, but then crashed back down with a 65 wRC+ in July and a -6 wRC+ (again, a negative) in August. A quad injury then got short his season, placing him on the 60-day DL. His final game occurred in mid-August.
On the positive end, Santana stole seven bases and appeared at every position but shortstop, first base, catcher, and pitcher for the Braves. On the negative end, he finished with a 52 wRC+ and -0.3 fWAR for his new team.
For Santana, 2018 is a pivotal season in the future of his career. While he could have a spot on the Braves bench as they continue to evaluate how best to use him, he’s also entering his first year of arbitration, and frankly, hasn’t been any good since his great rookie season. With Lane Adams already on the roster as a fourth outfielder option, Santana will need to show his versatility even more if he wants to have a chance to stick. It’s possible he simply gets non-tendered as the Braves look to subtract non-producers and add contributors to their roster.