As the Baltimore Orioles look to better their roster this offseason as they look to make a playoff push, one area of need for them is at first base. Ryan Mountcastle is currently the only first baseman they have on the roster. They don’t have a backup option at Norfolk either, as no first basemen are present on the Tides roster. So I started thinking, if they don’t pursue any free agent first base options, they have a potential backup option on the roster already, and his name is Anthony Santander.
Santander was wisely tendered a contract by the Orioles ahead of the 2023 season, and GM Mike Elias said there were no plans to trade the slugger. So that gets me thinking about a potential fit at first base. Looking at the outfield, they have Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, and now Kyle Stowers to go along with Ryan McKenna, and that’s not even getting into Daz Cameron and Jake Cave yet.
Could Anthony Santander fill in at first base for the Baltimore Orioles?
That right there is six outfielders on the 40 man roster, not including Santander and Terrin Vavra, who also has the ability to play the outfield. Santander also doesn’t have the best ability on defense. His outs above average is rated in the 13th percentile, and his jump on the ball is in the 32nd percentile. He committed -4 outs above average and -5 defensive runs saved in the outfield.
Santander will more than likely play DH a lot of the time due to his offense, but when Mountcastle needs to be spelled at first due to injury or a day off, Santander can fill in for the short term. He was working out at first base last summer during some pregame reps, and if the Orioles commit to training him at first in the offseason and spring training, they can have a serviceable backup ready to go on opening day.
Plus, Santander already has some first base experience, albeit not a small sample and a long time ago. In 2016, he played nine games at first for High A Lynchburg, part of the Cleveland Guardians farm system.
The bottom line here is that Santander’s 33 home runs and .454 slugging percentage last season will be in the lineup no matter what. But when you consider that there are better defensive options in the outfield and a need at first base, you can work out Santander at first and get serviceable play defensively when Mountcastle needs a rest.