Danny Santana, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain May 30th, started his rehab stint in triple-A on Tuesday. He’s reportedly said his hamstring feels great and should be activated in the near future. The Twins will have some interesting decisions to make when they do that.
Before going on the DL, Danny was serving as the Twins’ everyday center fielder. However, he's clearly been Wally Pipped in that regard now that Byron Buxton is back and playing quite well. Add in the fact Robbie Grossman has come out of nowhere to practically be the team MVP, Max Kepler seems to be figuring things out, and Oswaldo Arcia merely exists. The outfield looks a little full.
As us Twins fans know all too well, Danny is actually an infielder who can merely play the outfield. So could he just make a return to the infield? Well, things seem pretty full there too. Eduardo Nunez has made himself an everyday player with his on-fire bat; Trevor Plouffe is VERY firmly entrenched at third base; former all-star Brian Dozier is starting to heat up; and Eduardo Escobar is just adorable. Don’t even ask me about whether there is space at first base.
Santana is out of options, so the Twins can’t just leave him in triple-A forever. Something has to happen. Here’s basically what the Twins can do:
1.) See if he clears waivers
Being out of options doesn't mean Danny can’t be activated from the DL and sent back to triple-A, it just means he would have to clear waivers first. I’m not sure if he would, but I’m also not sure he wouldn’t either. Casey Fien didn’t make it through waivers, but on the other hand, Tommy Milone somehow did. Danny is a 25 year old player who has decent versatility, so he could be a tempting claim for another team. In that case, the Twins would lose him for nothing in return. Roster problem solved.
2.) Try to trade him
I’ve seen this suggestion thrown out there a bit, and come on. Sure, the Twins can try to trade him, but for what? At this point, it’s highly unlikely the Twins would get anything of real value for Santana (especially if other teams know he'll probably end up on waivers anyway).
What is more valuable: The chance Santana clears waivers and the Twins keep him, or the chance whatever the Twins could get for him turns out to be better than taking that risk? I can’t answer that question definitively because I have no idea what other teams would be offering, but I would probably say no, you’re better off trying to get him through waivers. I’m willing to take the risk and live without an extra Jim Hoey in the case Danny was claimed.
3.) Put him in the bullpen
I don’t mean literally. The Twins are currently carrying 13 pitchers and 12 position players. Hence, they could elect to send one of their pitchers back down to the minors and go back to a having a four-man bench, using Danny Santana as a kind of super-utility guy.
The problem here is that all of the pitchers with options have recently been among the best bullpen guys the Twins have. Buddy Boshers has yet to give up a run (although he’s only pitched 5.2 innings). Brandon Kintzler has been excellent, holding a 2.81 ERA over his 17 appearances. Tyler Rogers was a 3.07 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 14.2 innings pitched. And everyone knows Dat Pean has been rock solid.
Tyler Duffey is a possibility for demotion with his recent struggles, but then the Twins have the fun task of finding another person to pitch every fifth day.
4.) Keep him on rehab assignment as long as possible and see what happens
Rehab assignments for major league players are limited to 20 games. Santana has been on his rehab assignment for two games, so technically the Twins could just keep him down there for 18 more games and see if a more clear alternative for what to do with him arises (i.e., wait for someone to get injured, someone to start majorly sucking, or trade away other players on the active roster in a way that creates extra space there).
5.) Option Max Kepler and play Danny Santana in the outfield instead
This is a possibility, since Kepler has options, although I'm not so sure it would really help the team. After last night's defensive misplay maybe there is more justification. But the Twins would just be back in the same conundrum as soon as Miguel Sano was ready to be activated anyway (presuming there wasn't another injury or Plouffe was traded or something).
6.) DFA another player to make room for him
The Twins could try sending another player through waivers to make room for Danny Santana. I’m almost certain Oswaldo Arcia would be claimed, and the only thing worse than selling him low would be giving him away for nothing. So, um, Ryan Pressly? Would he make it?
It's not clear what the Twins will do here. Personally? I’d elect to give him a long rehab assignment and see if something happens, and it nothing does, try to send him through waivers.
What about you?