Milwaukee Brewers: Grading the Trade for 1B Carlos Santana

It's time to assign a grade to the first Brewers deadline trade.
Carlos Santana, Pittsburgh Pirates
Carlos Santana, Pittsburgh Pirates / Joe Sargent/GettyImages

With five days to go before the 2023 MLB trade deadline, the Milwaukee Brewers struck with their first of what will likely be multiple trades. It was one that addressed a position of need for the ball club and didn't put a huge dent in their farm system.

Yesterday, the Brewers acquired first baseman Carlos Santana in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. They gave away one prospect in the deal, 18-year-old shortstop Jhonny Severino, who was playing in the Arizona Complex League.

Based on what the Brewers got and what they had to give up, just how good of a deal is this for the Milwaukee Brewers? We'll break that down here and give an official grade to GM Matt Arnold's first official deadline trade.

What did the Brewers get in Carlos Santana?

Santana is 37 years old and a 14-year MLB veteran. He has a .242/.357/.431 slash line for his career (.788 OPS) and Milwaukee will mark the sixth team he has played for in his career (Cleveland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Philadelphia). He is also closing in on two big milestones as he has 290 homers and 978 RBI for his career.

This year with the Pirates, Santana has a slash line not too far off of his career average at .235/.321/.412 as well as 25 doubles, 12 homers, and 53 RBI. While his homers would tie for 3rd on the Brewers, his RBI would rank second and his doubles would actually lead the Crew for this season.

One of the keys to the Brewers' success this season has been strong defense and Arnold did not want to risk making that worse in a trade deadline deal. Luckily, Santana is a strong defender at first with six defensive runs saved and two outs above average on the season, which actually results in a defensive upgrade at the position.

Santana is a switch hitter, which is a useful tool to have in the arsenal, but if Brewers fans were hoping for an upgrade against lefties, he only helps there slightly as he's hitting .239 and slugging just .380. And though his strikeout rate isn't terribly high at 17.6%, his 36.6% hard hit rate is a career low. His 98 OPS+ and 99 wRC+ are also a shade below league average.

What did the Brewers give up in Jhonny Severino?

Severino was one of the Brewers' top signings of the international class from two winters ago. 17 years old at the tie and hailing from the Dominican Republic, he was the 21st overall ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline.

Severino wasn't on Pipeline's list of the top 30 Brewers prospects, but likely wasn't too terribly far off. At the time of the draft, they described him as "a large-framed infielder who will start his professional career at shortstop, but he could shift to another position, likely third base, as he fills out and gets stronger." At the plate, they said, " [the] switch-hitter shows an advanced approach in the box and the potential for above-average power."

Severino had a solid first season in the 2022 Dominican Summer League, slashing .268/.333/.391 in 48 games with 11 doubles, three homers, and 25 RBI. He had started slow to start his move to the ACL this year, but was starting to heat up with his average up to .250 and his slugging percentage up to an impressive .583 on the back of two doubles, a triple, and four homers in just 10 games.

What made Severino expendable was the sheer amount of talented shortstops in the Brewers system. With plenty in among the top 30 prospects and more to come from this year's draft, he would've likely slotted in somewhere in the 8th to 10th best shortstop prospects on the team.

Grading the trade: B+

While Santana has a OPS+ and wRC+ that are slightly below league average, he has been a solid run producer this season and that's what the Brewers need as they sport one of the worst offenses in the league. He also brings strong defense at first, which could push Rowdy Tellez to DH when he returns from the IL.

And while it's possible that Severino develops into a strong prospect some day, it's just as possible that he doesn't as international prospects are notoriously hard to predict when it comes to future success. Jackson Chourio, Milwaukee's current top prospect, wasn't even considered the best signing of his class, which is now hard to believe.

In the end, the Brewers addressed one of their positions of need while dealing from a position of depth. Could there have been a better option out there? Maybe. But it's hard to believe that the acquisition of Santana won't make the offense at least somewhat better.

It's pretty likely that the Brewers have more trades in them before next week's MLB trade deadline comes around. When those happen, we'll have more grades for you right here.

Next. 3 Moves Following Santana Trade. 3 Moves for the Brewers to Make Following the Santana Trade. dark