The odds of a minor-league free agent signing paying dividends for the big-league Yankees are like flipping a coin glued to another coin glued to 35 more coins, then flipped by a rocket launcher, never to be seen again.
That doesn’t mean former Braves farmhand Lisandro Santos, stolen by the Yankees from the Braves this past week, isn’t obviously intriguing at first sight.
Maybe Santos can emerge as the third piece in a four-player package at the deadline? Maybe he can — gasp — work his way all the way to the big-league bullpen?
Either way, the Yankees are risking absolutely nothing here for a minute chance at a major reward — a chance that gets less and less astronomically difficult to imagine when you watch Santos throw.
After protecting a few of their own pending minor-league free agents (like Jimmy Cordero) on the 40-man roster, the Yankees fleshed out their affiliate rosters over the past week, plucking mostly solid organizational guys like Jake Bauers rather than upside plays. Santos is firmly in a different category. Just watch him rock and fire.
Yankees steal minor-league free agent Lisandro Santos from Braves
99 MPH gas with personality? He may be 24 years old and ticketed for Double-A Somerset (or Scranton, if you believe MiLB.com), but there’s clearly some flair here — and some substance, too.
Santos dominated High-A in 2022, but struggled to maintain his ERA after being elevated to the more age-appropriate Double-A level, where he walked 11 in 18.1 innings and allowed 12 earned runs (5.89 mark).
Strikeouts are where Santos shined, though; his WHIPs always leave something to be desired (1.36, 1.45, 1.34 in his past three full seasons), but anyone who can strike out 102 batters in 66 innings — including 81 Ks in 47.2 High-A innings — might’ve unlocked something.
If Santos doesn’t click in the Yankees’ system? No harm, no foul; taking a flyer on a minor-league free agent is even less risky than, say, trading Joey Gallo at the deadline for Clayton Beeter and hoping you get something out of it.
There was a time in 2022, though, when the lefty gasser was having one of the best pitching seasons in the minors, harnessing his high-velocity fastball and mastering his control.
The Yankees are holding the lottery ticket now, but aren’t playing a game of pure luck. It’s like if there was one number already revealed, representing Santos’ elite velocity, while the Yanks waited for the rest of that week’s drawing to seal their fate. Based on the video footage alone, he’s worth a shot.