The Royals have traded first baseman Carlos Santana and cash considerations to the Seattle Mariners for pitchers Wyatt Mills and William Fleming and have called up first baseman Vinnie Pasquantino from Triple-A Omaha. The club has also designated pitcher Ronald Bolaños for assignment.
The 36-year-old Santana seemed unmovable a month ago when he was hitting .150 with an OPS of .528. But he has gone on a tear in the month of June, hitting .357/.478 /.554 in 17 games to put his overall line at .216/.349/.341 with four home runs in 212 plate appearances. Santana was briefly in the Seattle organization in December of 2018 when he was traded there by the Phillies but he never played for them, and was traded ten days later back to Cleveland. Santana is owed $10.5 million for the entire season, but with the Royals sending cash considerations they will likely cover some of the money owed him the remainder of this season.
William Fleming was originally an 11th-round pick out of Wake Forest in the 2021 draft and has a 4.92 ERA in 14 starts for Low-A Modesto with 59 strikeouts in 67 2⁄3 innings. The 6’6’’ right-hander is the #27-ranked prospect in the Mariners organization, according to MLB Pipeline, who writes that he sits at 92-93 mph with his fastball, but with lackluster secondary offerings. His best breaking ball is a slider that “could benefit from a more firm out-of-hand release to create better deception of his fastball.”
Wyatt Mills is a 27-year-old Washington state native that the Mariners drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft out of Gonzaga. He has pitched in parts of the last two seasons with the Mariners with a 7.59 ERA in 21 1⁄3 innings pitched, including four runs allowed in 8 2⁄3 innings this year. Last May, Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs ranked him the #14 prospect in the Seattle system, writing Mills was a “good, sidearm “look” reliever who can enter the middle of the game and present hitters with a visual conundrum because of his sidearm slot.” Mills had a 50+ percent groundball rate in the minors and relies on sinking action on his 93 mph fastball. He had a 1.83 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 19 2⁄3 innings as a reliever in Triple-A this year and struck out 51 hitters in 28 2/3 innings in Triple-A last year.
Vinnie Pasquantino gets the call shortly after being named a Top 100 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He has destroyed Triple-A pitching this year, batting .280/.372/.565 with 18 home runs in 69 games for Omaha. Even more impressive is that the 24-year old has walked (37) more than he has struck out (36). The left-handed slugger smashed 24 home runs with a line of .300/.394/.563 last year across High-A and Double-A.
Pasquantino and Mills are added to the 40-man roster, with Santana and Bolaños shuttled off. Bolaños had originally been acquired from the Padres in 2020 in the Tim Hill trade, but had battled injuries and inconsistencies in Kansas City. He had a 4.42 ERA in 18 1⁄3 innings this year for the Royals but with 12 walks and just 12 strikeouts. He had a 4.76 ERA in 28 1⁄3 innings over three seasons with the Royals.
The Royals stuck with Carlos Santana weeks after some were calling on him to be released, and they were rewarded for their patience. Neither Mills or Fleming are top prospects and may amount to nothing, but getting anything back for a 36-year old coming off an 80 OPS+ season is quite an accomplishment. And the biggest reward is opening up a spot for Pasquantino, one of the most intriguing prospects in the Royals farm system.