Royals sell Carlos Santana to sailors, promote Vinnie Pasquantino


Royals sell Carlos Santana to sailors, promote Vinnie Pasquantino

The Mariners acquired the first baseman/designated hitter Carlo Santana and cash from the royals in exchange for right-handers Wyatt Mills and William Fleming, per team announcement. The trade paves the way for the royals to take a long-overdue look at the top prospects Vinnie Pasquantino, whose contract was officially selected by Triple-A Omaha, according to the team. right-handed Ronald Bolanos was earmarked for use to open a spot on Kansas City’s 40-man roster.

Carlos Santana |  John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Monday’s trade closes the book of a generally stunning tenure in Kansas City for Santana, who has signed a two-year, $17.5 million contract ahead of the 2021 season but is yet to get into the shape he’s been in for years made such a valuable contributor in Cleveland . The Switch-battling 36-year-old made 871 plate appearances with the Royals and recorded just a .215/.326/.341 batting line — about 12% worse than the league average after weighting for park and league as measured by wRC+.

However, Santana has managed to turn things around in recent weeks and has shown enough this month for the royals to get an inexpensive look now that they suddenly need a first baseman. Ty FranceSeattle’s most consistent hitter this season, was recently injured and expects to be out for just over that 10-day minimum amid a diagnosis of a Grade 2 flexor strain. Santana shouldn’t be expected to be France’s brilliant Completely replaced the .316/.390/.476 batting line, but he’s himself amassed .298/.405/.468 in his last 27 games and 111 plate appearances.

In all likelihood, the royals will pay the bulk of what remains on Santana’s contract. He still owes him the balance of this year’s salary of $10.5 million (about $5.8 million), and that number will increase based on record appearances. Santana, who already has 212 record appearances this season, earns an additional $75,000 for every 25 record appearances from 300 to 525.

It’s not the first time the Mariners have taken over Santana, but if he takes the field in a Mariners jersey it will be his first real game with the team. Seattle actually acquired Santana on the side JP Crawford in the store that sent Jean Segura, Juan Nicosio and James Pazos back to the Phillies in December 2018. Less than two weeks later, however, Santana was traded to Cleveland in the three-team swap that brought it about Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle. Encarnacion spent half a season batting as the Mariners’ designated hitter before joining the Yankees for right-handers Juan then.

This time it will be two right-handers traveling to Kansas City in exchange for the last 3+ months of control of Santana. Of the two right-handers in question, only Mills has any experience in the big league so far. The 27-year-old has thrown a total of 21 1/3 frames over the past two seasons, but has struggled during that time with below-average strikeout and walk rates (17.3% and 10.2%, respectively) to a 7.59 ERA .

Wyatt Mills |  Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mills, the No. 93 overall pick in 2017, has more interesting but also inconsistent numbers in the upper undertones. The right-hander, for example, fanned a whopping 44.7% of his opponents in 28 2/3 innings with Triple-A balls last year, but that rate has been halved over the course of 19 2/3 innings so far in 2022. There is no change in speed between his 21st and 22nd campaigns, although Mills threw more fastballs at the expense of some slider use during this year’s small sample of 8 2/3 innings in the big league. The 6’4″ right-hander was never one of the Mariners’ top candidates, but Baseball America listed him among Seattle’s top 25 farmhands, dating back to when he was drafted.

Fleming, on the other hand, is a 23-year-old right-hander picked by the Mariners in the 11th round just a year ago. He wasn’t generally considered one of the Mariners’ brightest prospects either — though FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen ranked him 28th earlier this year — and has posted fairly pedestrian numbers in Class-A Modesto despite being a former college arm , who is older than his average opponent at this level. So far, Fleming has thrown 67 2/3 innings over 14 starts and logged a 4.92 ERA with a 20.7% strikeout rate versus an 8.4% walk rate.

For the royals, the weapons received in exchange for Santana are secondary in this deal. The greater purpose of the trade was to finally open up playing time for the 6’4″, 245-pound Pasquantino, who has carved his way into top prospect status by dominating every minor league stop, including Triple-A this season. So far, Pasquantino has completed 296 rounds at the plate for the Storm Chasers and put up a huge .280/.372/.576 batting line with 18 homers, 16 doubles, two triples and more walks (37) than strikeouts (36).

Given his size and lack of speed, Pasquantino is tied to a first-base-only (or designated hitter) profile, but so far, all indications are that his racquet will play in the majors. Scouting reports at Baseball America and FanGraphs show he’s improved enough with the glove to be average or slightly better, and Pasquantino has never had an OBP less than .371 or a slugging percentage less than .560 in a minor -League level released. And given the lack of strikeouts in his game, he’s been able to maintain a .293 average during his minor league tenure to date.

Even without much defensive value to shore up his value, Pasquantino ranks the No. 57 game in Baseball America. He checks in at #95 on FanGraphs and #98 on, with all three scouting reports praising his plus (or better) hit tool and above-average power.

The organizational hope is between Pasquantino and his fellow racquet Nick Prato – also a top 100 first base only prospect – they will be covering their first base and DH slots for years to come. Pasquantino’s promotion to the majors is late enough that he should avoid Super Two status, and he will be controllable for at least six full seasons beyond the current season.

The 25-year-old Bolanos has seen action in each of the last three seasons with Kansas City over the past three seasons, but overall has posted plenty of foot counts. Once a notable Padres who signed out of Cuba, he was traded to the Royals along with Franchy Cordero in the 2020 trade that sent Tim Hill to San Diego. He has since gone 28 1/3 innings with 4.76 combined ERA balls with a lackluster 24-to-17 K/BB ratio.

Bolanos has a respectable 4.42 ERA in 18 1/3 innings this year, but his 93.6 mph fastball average is about two miles per hour below his peak and that ERA comes to strikeouts despite an even number of walks. Add to that the fact that he’s been limping to a 5.49 ERA in 19 2/3 triple-A frames this season, and it was enough for the Royals to decide they were ready to move on. Of course, the DFA doesn’t necessarily mean the end of his time in the organization. Kansas City has a week to trade Bolanos if there’s interest, but the royals may also try to walk him through outright waivers sometime next week. If he is not claimed, he would remain with the organization but no longer occupy a spot on the 40-man roster.

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