Cleveland Indians: Domingo Santana is off to Japan for the 2021 season

CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 14: Domingo Santana #24 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning of an intrasquad game during summer workouts at Progressive Field on July 14, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - JULY 14: Domingo Santana #24 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a grand slam in the fifth inning of an intrasquad game during summer workouts at Progressive Field on July 14, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Cleveland Indians outfielder Domingo Santana will look to rebound while playing in Japan next season.

After a disappointing 2020 season with the Cleveland Indians, Domingo Santana did not have his 2021 option picked up by the cost-cutting Indians who elected to go with a $250,000 buyout instead of paying the 28-year-old outfielder/DH a 2021 salary of $5 million.

Santana hasn’t remained out of work long, electing to pack his bags and head off to Japan next season and play with the Yakult Swallows of the NPB.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi was the first to break the news late Wednesday night.

The move across the Pacific makes a lot of sense for Santana, who appeared destined for a solid big league career after a breakout season with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017. Unfortunately, Santana has been unable to recreate that success since then here in the US. With his powerful bat and seven years of MLB experience, Santana shouldn’t have many difficulties in transferring his game to the NPB.

More Indians. Trade packages for Lindor. light

In his breakout 2017 campaign, Santana hit 30 home runs with 29 doubles, a .278/.371/.505 slash line, and a 127 wRC+. He was worth 3.3 Wins Above Replacement and despite an enormous strikeout rate (30%), Domingo Santana appeared poised to be a mainstay in the middle of Milwaukee’s lineup.

After hitting just five home runs in 85 games the following season, Santana rebounded with the Seattle Mariners in 2019, hitting 21 home runs in 121 games.

His up and down play continued this season with the Cleveland Indians. Santana hit a rough .157 with a .298 OBP and just two home runs in 24 games, posting a wRC+ of 64. It was no surprise that the Cleveland Indians decided to move on from him.

At 28, there’s still an opportunity for Domingo Santana to rebound once again, but options were going to be minimal, maybe even nonexistent, for him in Major League Baseball. With teams looking to slash payroll and still no word on whether or not the DH role is coming back to the NL next season, hitters like Santana are smart to jump on an offer from an NPB or KBO ballclub.

With a solid season in Japan, the return of the DH in the NL, and a better outlook for next offseason across the league, perhaps Domingo Santana can earn himself another opportunity to make an MLB roster.

Next. Oscar Colas is now a free agent. dark

But in the meantime, Santana has set himself up with a paycheck and regular playing for a professional club. He won’t be the last one to make the same move this winter.