Carlos Santana arrived on the Mariners in the summer of 2022 after being traded from the Royals for prospects Wyatt Mills and William Fleming. Splitting time between first base and DH, Santana slashed .192/.293/.400 over 294 plate appearances. Most notably, he was an integral part of the team's performance in the AL Wild Card Round against the Blue Jays, posting a 1.083 OPS and hitting a key home run in Game 2 to cut the deficit and put the Mariners back in the game.
He had an equally productive year with the Pirates and Brewers in 2023, improving his batting average considerably. He profiled as a balanced hitter who was able to exercise great plate discipline while avoiding strikeouts at the cost of some power numbers. His average exit velocity has decreased over the years as it tends to do with older players but his ability to compensate with a walk-rate consistently above 10% and a strikeout rate below 20% has kept him around the major leagues.
Bringing back Carlos Santana accomplishes two goals - it provides some needed depth at first base and it provides a better option for the designated hitter role.
Following his first career All-Star appearance, Ty France slowed down considerably in 2023. One could argue that the best thing about his game was his ability to constantly get pegged by opposing pitchers, leading MLB for the second time in his career with 34 hit-by-pitches. France also has a league-average glove, so assuming the Mariners want to continue their focus on finding value in defense, Santana could be a great upgrade there too. He had 11 defensive runs saved and two outs above average as opposed to Ty France's -7 DRS and -1 OAA.
Currently, the only name listed on the depth chart under the DH role is Cal Raleigh. While this has been a trend with better hitting catchers like William Contreras and Sean Murphy moonlighting as designated hitters on their backstop off-days, it may be more beneficial to give Raleigh additional rest. With Tom Murphy signing with the Giants in free agency, the Mariners do not have a second catcher, meaning Raleigh will likely end up shouldering even more responsibility in 2024. With Santana ready to fill the DH spot, Raleigh can be fully taken out of the lineup to maximize his longevity.
He's far from perfect, a little older than ideal, and isn't going to guarantee that Seattle ends up on top of the AL West next year, but Carlos Santana would be a great fit with the Mariners and could add immense value to a currently uneven roster.