As Friday’s major league trade deadline gets closer and closer, the KC Royals haven’t done much in terms of making deals. Yes, they did acquire Joel Payamps from the Blue Jays but, other than that, the club has chosen to stand pat while rumors continue to swirl around Whit Merrifield and Danny Duffy.
But there is another Royal beginning to show up in trade speculation—Carlos Santana.
Santana signed a two-year deal with the Royals in December, and has performed as expected. He doesn’t stand out in some ways as much as fellow offseason acquisition Andrew Benintendi, but he’s certainly done what the Royals want him to do. So far, Santana’s slashing, .239/.353/.414 with a .767 OPS. But he was signed for pop (he’s hit 17 home runs), ability to get on base (that .353 OBP), and his defense (he boasts a .994 fielding percentage and only four errors on the year).
Santana is a switch hitter and a consistent and reliable hitter in the lineup, which is what some contenders could be eyeing. But would the Royals be willing to trade Santana?
Who might play first base if the KC Royals trade Carlos Santana this week?
There’s often smoke to speculation. And smoke pertaining to Santana comes at least in part from the re-emergence of Nick Pratto, Kansas City’s No.5 prospect per MLB Pipeline.
Rebounding from a poor 2019 when he hit .191 in Wilmington, Pratto has been on fire in the minors this season. He hit .271 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs in Double-A, resulting in his promotion to Triple-A. He’s played six games at Omaha with a .273/.407/.636 slash, a 1.044 OPS, and two home runs, seven RBIs, and five walks.
With Pratto potentially next in line as the KC Royals’ future first baseman, the club could decide to start the future now rather than later and call up Pratto if it chooses to deal Santana. The Royals could even wait some time before going to Pratto by playing Ryan O’Hearn at first if Santana is dealt.
Another source of smoke is former-Royal Eric Hosmer, who’s been somewhat disappointing for the Padres. San Diego seems open to talking trades involving the first baseman, and with Kansas City General Manager Dayton Moore’s history of bringing back former players, the 31-year-old Hosmer could be a viable replacement if Santana goes. The only issue with this scenario is Hosmer’s contract.
Hosmer’s $144 million contract runs through 2025. If the Royals bring him back, they’ll owe him approximately $31 million for the rest of this year and next combined, and $13 million per season until the contract expires. Santana’s $17.5 million two-season deal is, of course, cheaper, but doesn’t last as long.
However, San Diego Union-Tribune Padres beat writer Kevin Acee speculates that if the Padres trade Hosmer, they may well need to attach a highly-touted prospect to complete the deal:
With the Royals wanting to build around their top prospects for the future, it’s feasible they could acquire one of San Diego’s, while also taking back a fan favorite in Hosmer if they trade Santana to another club.
Will the KC Royals end up trading Carlos Santana before the trade deadline?
Although some teams need a first baseman, it’s hard to say the if the Royals would be willing to give Santana up, for when he was brought in, it seemed a sign the Royals might be done rebuilding. Acquiring Benintendi supported that notion, as would the promotions of Pratto and Bobby Witt Jr.
When it’s all said and done, though, it’s up to Dayton Moore to decide if trading Santana will help shorten the club’s road to contending sooner rather than later.
Although some speculation is beginning to surround Carlos Santana, the KC Royals could stand pat with him at first base.