Santana returns to Braves on minor league deal

11:53 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 Atlanta Braves
Danny Santana trots around the bases on a two-run homer against the Dodgers on Aug. 2. A quadriceps strain two weeks later caused him to miss the rest of the season. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Braves made official Saturday the re-signing of veteran utilityman Danny Santana to a minor league contract that included an invitation to spring training with the major league team.

The move came three weeks after the team made Santana a non-tendered free agent along with Matt Adams and Jace Peterson. Adams signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Nationals last week and Peterson remains a free agent.

Santana, 27, was eligible for arbitration and had been projected to make about $1.1 million if the Braves had offered him a contract at the Dec. 1 deadline.

The Braves have since added Charlie Culberson, who is expected to serve as their primary backup shortstop and utility infielder, and corner outfielder Preston Tucker. Culberson came to Atlanta from the Dodgers as part of the big trade that sent Matt Kemp to Los Angeles.

Tucker was acquired from the Astros in a Wednesday trade for a player to be named later or cash and took the final spot on the 40-man roster.

Santana hit just .203 with a .245 on-base percentage, three home runs and six stolen bases in 159 plate appearances (69 games) for the Braves in 2017 after coming from the Twins in a May 8 trade for reliever Kevin Chapman.

Santana had a promising stretch in which he hit .290 (20-for-69) with 10 extra-base hits (two homers) and 17 RBIs and an .854 OPS in 31 games from May 24 through July 4. But he went 9-for-57 (.158) with with five RBIs and a .453 OPS in 27 games after that and was slowed by a bacterial infection that landed him on the 10-day disabled list in July and a quadriceps strain in mid-August that sidelined him the rest of the season.

After hitting .319 with an .824 OPS in over 400 at-bats as a Twins rookie in 2014 – he was seventh in American League Rookie of the Year balloting -- Santana has hit only .221 with a .255 OBP and .575 OPS in 703 plate appearances over the past three seasons, with six homers and 27 stolen bases in 248 games during that span.

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