Your argument is about why he's not elite, but by the list above there are about 4 players/team with his range of OPS. So he's roughly a top 4 hitter on most teams who also plays good defense.
I get that he's not elite, but he has value.
There's risk in any strategy. Let Santander play more and you risk he gets hurt or doesn't produce. Trade him now and you take for granted that your 1-2 pick is the stud you hope even though you saw him in relatively small sample sizes and he hasn't played in a year.
I prefer to wait and see. Confirm our guys are what we hope they are, to some extent.
I do concede that Elias probably has a better idea of that already than I do, but I also know for a fact that top picks don't pan out in this sport quite frequently, so I don't want to take him for granted.
He has been worth a total of 1.2 fWAR in his entire career. His career wRC+ is 95.
He’s an average-ish defensive player.
His career OBp is 292, with the highest being 315 in any season.
His Ba is usually around 260.
He has never played more than 93 ML games.
His slugging is where his value lies. In 2019, amongst players with 300 or more at bats, he was 101st in MLB in slugging.
Last year, his slugging was 21st amongst players with 150 or more at bats. He played 38 games. That’s not much a sample size going forward.
He isn’t likely to ever carry an OBP of higher than 330 and its more likely its closer to 300 than 330. His slugging is where he can “make his money”. Is he a 450-500 slugging guy or a 525+ guy?
My guess is he will be an 800ish OPs guy, give or take 20 points. In 2019, there were 114 players who had an 800 or better OPs who had at least 300 at bats. 13 of those players had an OPS between 801-820 and there were 26 others in the 780-799 range.
For him to not be relatively easy to replace, his OBP would have to creep up into the 320-330 range, his slugging 500 or higher and he would have to continue to be a better defensive OFer than his career has suggested. Oh and he actually has to stay on the field and be healthy.
That is a lot to ask for a guy who is 26 and pretty close to being the player he is likely to be going forward. Good news is that he has a few historically peak seasons (by age) left, so maybe there is room for him to get better. But it’s a big ask imo. Agree that it’s possible though.