A trio of midsummer trades took three big names away from the KC Royals.
In the first of its three most major deals of the summer, Kansas City sent first baseman-DH Carlos Santana to Seattle June 27. Slugger Santana helped the Mariners to the playoffs, but the righthanded pitchers KC received in return did little to distinguish themselves.
Reliever Wyatt Mills spent time with the Royals and Triple-A Omaha after the trade and, in 19 big league appearances, was 0-1 with a 4.79 ERA. That he was 2-1, 2.57 in Omaha (albeit with 10 walks in 14 innings) provides some promise for the future.
Starter William Fleming, 6-6 with a 4.92 in 14 Low-A starts before the deal, moved up to High-A after it and went 3-4, 5.10 for Quad Cities.
What, then, made this deal big? Moving Santana allowed the Royals to call up Vinnie Pasquantino, who stuck for the rest of the season, slashed .295/.383/.450 with 10 homers, and locked up his place on the club.
Gold Glover Andrew Benintendi was the next major player the KC Royals moved.
Playing out his contract meant left fielder Andrew Benintendi, who as a new Royal won his first Gold Glove in 2021, was destined for a deal; it came a month to the day after the Royals traded Santana and made Benintendi a Yankee for the stretch run. New York made the playoffs but Benintendi didn’t—a broken hamate bone forced him out of the lineup in September and he never returned.
New York gave Kansas City three pitchers for Benintendi. Lefty T.J. Sikkema was MLB Pipeline’s No. 19 Yankee prospect at the time but lost five games and didn’t win any at Double-A Northwest Arkansas after the trade, although he seemed to rediscover himself by going 2-0, 2.45 in the Arizona Fall League. Currently ranked by MLB Pipeline as KC’s 16th best prospect and considered a lock by some for Kansas City’s 40-man roster, and thus Rule 5 Draft protection, the club’s decision not to add him to its 40-man leaves him exposed for next week’s draft.
Righthander Chandler Champlain suffered at High-A Quad Cities, going 1-3, 9.84 in eight games after the deal. Five outings were especially bad—he gave up five runs in 2.2 innings Aug. 3, four in five frames Aug. 14, six in 5.2 a week later, eight in 2.1 Aug. 28, and seven in three innings Sept. 11. MLB Pipeline considers him Kansas City’s 26th best prospect.
Promising, however, was how he pitched in the inaugural minor league “Field of Dreams” game Aug. 9. Picked to start against Cedar Rapids, he lasted 6.1 innings, struck out seven, and didn’t walk a batter.
Beck Way, the third hurler the Yanks sent Kansas City, went 3-3, 3.79 in seven starts for Quad Cities. He struck out 47 in 35.2 innings. MLB Pipeline ranks him ninth among its Top 30 KC prospects.
The KC Royals’ final big trade sent Whit Merrifield to a surprising location.
Kansas City waited until the trading period’s final hours to part ways with superbly versatile Whit Merrifield, someone many thought to be the Royals’ best player, at least until Bobby Witt Jr. arrived. Where Merrifield ended up was a surprise.
Merrifield was one of 10 Royals whose vaccination status prevented him crossing the border to play Toronto in July. Nevertheless, he became a Blue Jay when KC dealt him North for Samad Taylor, another versatile player, and pitcher Max Castillo.
An injury prevented Taylor, who’s played in the infield and outfield, from seeing any action after the trade; he started playing again in the Arizona Fall League and hit .152 with a pair of homers in 21 games. Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Royals’ 25th best prospect, he was recently added to the 40-man roster.
Castillo, who’d pitched in the majors nine times before the trade, debuted with the Royals Aug. 18 by striking out five and surrendering only a run in five innings. But three bad outings in the other four games he worked for KC—opponents battered him for 16 runs in nine innings in those three contests—accounted for his 9.16 ERA as a Royal.