Klentak's confidence sold Carlos Santana on joining the Phillies

Philadelphia GM sold Carlos Santana on Phillies vision
General manager Matt Klentak picked up his phone when free agency opened and immediately checked in with Carlos Santana's agent, thinking of the value he could bring to an offense that was wretched at times last season.

Klentak's call was one of more than a dozen from other clubs looking to upgrade, but he was persistent and met with Santana's people again during the GM Meetings in November. The parties stayed in touch via text over the next few weeks and ultimately it was Klentak's conviction that the Phillies are turning the corner that closed the deal.

“We were honest with him,” Klentak said. “We are genuinely excited about this organization’s future. You’ve heard me talk about it a lot this offseason — about the strides we believe we made in the second half last year, about the quality of our farm system, about our ownership’s commitment. We basically told him the truth from the very beginning. We told him why we thought he was a good fit here.”

The three-year, $60 million deal is the franchise's costliest free-agent signing since Cliff Lee signed a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010.

The move demonstrates a significant philosophical shift as Klentak and Co. emphasized prior to the Winter Meetings a desire to have the youth scattered across the roster continue to mature via regular at-bats. It's a signing that came as a shock to most people in the baseball world, including Santana.

"I'm surprised," he said Wednesday at an introductory press conference at Citizens Bank Park. "But I'm happy for that because they believe in me."

Santana and his agent Ulises Cabrera admit there was some hesitation about coming to Philadelphia given three consecutive 90+ loss seasons, but Klentak's confidence in the direction of the club negated those concerns.

“Are they going to win 90 games next year? Probably not,” Cabrera said. “Are they in a direction to? Yes. We felt that. That was a key component of this whole process.”

The move means Rhys Hoskins will slide to left field and opens up the possibility the Phillies will move one of their young outfielders - Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams - in a package deal to secure much-needed help with the starting rotation.

The addition of Santana also indicates to the potential free agent class of 2018 - led by superstars Bryce Harper and Manny Machado - that the Phillies are ready to contend now and not just later.

"This is a move for now and the future," Klentak said. "I'm excited."
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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