Yankees sign bullpen arm with some upside to MiLB deal

mlb: miami marlins at new york mets, dennis santana, yankees
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees lost six pitchers over the last two days, including three they sent to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo and three being selected by other MLB teams in the Rule 5 Draft.

The Yankees need to start rebuilding their prospect pool and adding arms with some MLB upside. That is precisely what general manager Brian Cashman did on Wednesday, signing a high-upside relief pitcher to a minor-league deal.

According to Jessica Kleinschmidt, an Oakland Athletics broadcaster, the Yankees signed Dennis Santana, a 27-year-old who has pitched 143 major-league games.

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What does Dennis Santana Bring to the Yankees?

At first glance, Santana isn’t anything to write home about, but he fits the preference and profile that pitching coach Matt Blake desires. Despite having no minor-league options left, Santana has three years of service time left at a cheap cost and has shown flashes of quality over the past few years. He tossed only 10.2 innings with the New York Mets in 2023, finishing with a 5.91 ERA but displaying high strikeout rates. He has a problem walking too many batters, collecting 5.91 last season and 4.75 per 9 throughout his MLB career.

However, looking at his pitch makeup, he has some good stuff that the Yankees can expand upon. He features a slider, sinker, 4-seam fastball, and change-up. His slider produced a .231 batting average against last season with a 33.3% whiff rate. His 4-seam fastball, a pitch that performed well, generated a .125 batting average against with a 38.1% whiff rate. In fact, his fastball produced 66% more horizontal movement than the average pitcher, and his slider has a gyro shape that produces more vertical movement.

If the Yankees can improve his sinker and slider combination, Santana could be a decent arm in the bullpen, especially since he averages 95.2 mph on his fastball. Utilizing that blend of velocity and break, if any coach can get the most out of him, it is Matt Blake.