The Texas Rangers have acquired righthanded pitcher Dennis Santana in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the team announced today. The Rangers sent minor league lefthanded pitcher Kelvin Bautista to the Dodgers for Santana. Santana has been optioned to AAA Round Rock. To make room on the 40 man roster for Santana, the Rangers have designated pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang for assignment.
Santana is the third righthanded relief pitcher the Rangers have gotten from the Dodgers’ system in the last six months, joining Rule 5 selection Brett de Geus and trade acquisition Josh Sborz. Santana, 25, has spent parts of four seasons in the majors for the Dodgers, accumulating a 6.42 ERA and a 5.29 FIP in 40.2 IP.
I said Santana was the third righthanded relief pitcher acquired, but he’s actually been used in the minors primarily as a starting pitcher, so maybe I’m jumping to conclusions here. Santana has only pitched in relief in the majors, but the Rangers may be looking at him as a starting pitcher, or at least may have him continue to start for Round Rock for the time being.
Santana was as high as #7 on the Baseball America prospect rankings for the Dodgers heading into the 2019 season, though he was #19 on the list this year. He’s a converted shortstop, with BA saying he “has loud stuff with a ton of natural movement,” but with major command issues as well. He is on his final minor league option.
Bautista, who turns 22 next month, has mostly pitched in the Dominican Summer League, though he also had three appearances for the Rangers’ AZL team in 2019. He put up a 1.57 ERA in 23 IP over 11 games for the Rangers in the DSL in 2019, after logging a 5.00 ERA in the DSL in 2018.
I’ve seen folks express surprise that Yang was designated for assignment, but he had just been optioned, and the risk someone would claim him seems minimal. He’s a 33 year old finesse lefty who signed a minor league deal this past offseason, and who will, I believe, become a free agent after the season. He’s not someone that a team would claim and stash, I don’t think. He presumably will clear waivers and then be outrighted to Round Rock.