Royals send Carlos Santana, $4.3M to Mariners for 2 young pitchers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals traded slugger Carlos Santana and nearly $4.3 million to the Seattle Mariners for right-handers Wyatt Mills and William Fleming, clearing the way for Kansas City to bring up hot prospect Vinnie Pasquantino .

The Royals optioned Mills, a 27-year-old veteran, to Triple-A Omaha while designating right-hander Ronald Bolanos for assignment. Fleming was assigned to Class-A Quad Cities.

Kansas City agreed to send $4,269,231 to Seattle, leaving the Mariners to pay just $1.5 million of the remainder of Santana’s salary in the second year of a two-year, $17.5 million contract.

After hitting 19 homers in 158 games for Kansas City last season, and providing some veteran leadership to a team going through a long and difficult rebuild, the 36-year-old first baseman is hitting just .216 with four homers through 52 games this season.

This is the second time Santana has been with Seattle, though the first stint lasted a mere 10 days. He was acquired along with J.P. Crawford from Philadelphia for infielder Jean Segura, right-hander Juan Nicasio, and left-hander James Pazos on Dec. 3, 2018; the Mariners then traded him away as part of a three-team deal with Cleveland and Tampa Bay.

This time should be different as the 36-year-old gives Seattle a useful switch-hitter and an option at first base with leading hitter Ty France on the injured list with an elbow injury. Santana has been the primary first baseman for the Royals and has been better at the plate over the past month with a .357 batting averaging and a 1.032 OPS in June. Seattle also is receiving $4,269,231 from Kansas City to offset Santana’s remaining contract, with $1.5 million paid by the Mariners.

With the Royals last in the AL Central at 26-45 heading into Monday night’s game against Texas, and Santana nearing the end of his contract, it was prudent for Kansas City to clear the way for Pasquantino to begin his big league career.

The 24-year-old was picked in the 11th round of the 2019 first-year player draft out of Old Dominion and was generally one of the Royals’ overlooked prospects until the past couple of seasons. He was hitting .280 with 18 homers at Omaha, and was among the Triple-A leaders in extra-base hits, runs, homers and slugging percentage.

The fact that they got a couple of promising pitchers in Mills and Fleming was a bonus.

Mills had a 4.15 ERA in eight appearances for Seattle this season, along with going 1-0 with a 1.83 ERA in 19 2/3 innings for Triple-A Tacoma. Fleming was picked in the 11th round of last year’s first-year player draft out of Wake Forest and was 6-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 14 starts for Class-A Modesto this season.

Bolanos had a 4.42 ERA in eight appearances for Kansas City this season.

Cards’ Pujols hits 700th career home run, 4th to reach mark

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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LOS ANGELES – St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 700th career home run on Friday night, connecting for his second drive of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers and becoming the fourth player to reach the milestone in major league history.

The 42-year-old Pujols hit No. 699 in the third inning, then launched No. 700 in the fourth at Dodger Stadium.

With the drive in the final days of his last big league season, Pujols joined Barry Bonds (762 homers), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) in one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs.

It’s been a remarkable run for Pujols. This was his 14th home run since the start of August for the NL Central-leading Cardinals, and his 21st of the season.

Pujols’ historic homer was a three-run shot against Dodgers reliever Phil Bickford. The ball landed in the first few rows of the left-field pavilion, the same location his two-run shot touched down the previous inning off left-hander Andrew Heaney.

Pujols received a prolonged standing ovation from the crowd – he finished out last season while playing for the Dodgers. He took a curtain call, raising his cap in acknowledgment.

The fans chanted “Pujols! Pujols!” They finally sat down after being on their feet in anticipation of seeing history.

Pujols snapped a tie with Alex Rodriguez for fourth on the list when he hit career homer No. 697 against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.

Reaching 700 homers seemed like a long shot for Pujols when he was batting .189 on July 4. But the three-time NL MVP started to find his stroke in August, swatting seven homers in one 10-game stretch that helped St. Louis pull away in the division race.

“I know that early in the year … I obviously wanted better results,” Pujols said after he homered in a 1-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Aug. 22. “But I felt like I was hitting the ball hard. Sometimes this game is going to take more away from you than the game (is) giving you back.

“So I think at the end of the day you have to be positive and just stay focused and trust your work. That’s something that I’ve done all the time.”

Pujols has enjoyed a resurgent season after returning to St. Louis in March for a $2.5 million, one-year contract. It’s his highest total since he hit 23 homers for the Angels in 2019.

He plans to retire when the season ends.

Pujols also began his career in St. Louis. He was selected by the Cardinals in the 13th round of the 1999 amateur draft and won the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year award.

The Dominican Republic native hit at least .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He helped the Cardinals to World Series titles in 2006 and 2011.

He set a career high with 49 homers in 2006 – one of seven seasons with at least 40 homers. He led the majors with 47 homers in 2009 and topped the NL with 42 in 2010.

Pujols left St. Louis in free agency in December 2011, signing a $240 million, 10-year contract with the Angels. He was waived by the Angels in May 2021, and then joined the Dodgers and hit 12 homers and drove in 38 runs in 85 games.