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Can the Royals Get a Trade Return for Carlos Santana This Offseason?

Let's head north of the border for the third trade package of our 29-day series.

Welcome back to the 29 trades in 29 days series. Every morning, I will be taking a look at a new MLB team in an effort to find a trade package that makes sense for the Kansas City Royals to hypothetically pursue. For some ground rules and an example, check out the first installment of the series. Today, let's keep moving through the American League East as I examine a possible trade involving the Toronto Blue Jays.

For our next possible trade, we will head north of the border to unravel a possible trade candidate that has since fallen to relative obscurity after being a Cy Young candidate not too long ago.

Toronto is in a fantastic spot when it comes to its young core with George Springer, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel and Teoscar Hernandez all returning next year. This team is a sleeper pick for the 2022 World Series. But soon, some of these players are going to want to get paid themselves. Robbie Ray could win the Cy Young this year as well and is a free agent, which means the Blue Jays could be poised to take a major hit to their staff. Having a player with a potentially large and unmoveable contract on the books might derail the plan.

That is, unless, you can find a team to take on that contract. The Royals should fit that bill nicely if the right player comes back in return.

The Trade

Toronto Blue Jays Receive: 1B Carlos Santana (with the Royals eating $5 million or more in salary)

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Kansas City Royals Receive: SP Hyun Jin Ryu

When Ryu was with the Dodgers, he was one of the best pitchers in baseball and finished top five in Cy Young voting in 2020 and 2019. Now, as he completed his age-34 season with the Jays, his ERA ballooned up to 4.37 — the highest mark he’s had in a full season. Ryu is slated to make $20M this season and I can only speculate that the Jays would want to use that money instead to try and re-sign Ray and Steven Matz to new deals and possibly bring back Marcus Semien.

The Royals, in this writer's opinion, should be more than happy to take this contract off the Blue Jays' hands and give them Carlos Santana at a reduced rate to help alleviate some of their future financial burdens. 

Santana would most likely slot in as the designated hitter for Toronto, with Springer moving back to center field full-time and the Jays using that money to keep Marcus Semien and retain either Ray or Matz with the savings they would get by trading Ryu. For the Royals, they'd get a pitcher that has pitched at an elite level in the not-so-distant past. 

The contract is the thing that causes the most concern in the deal because the Blue Jays won’t play ball unless the Royals agree to swallow the entirety of not only the Ryu contract, but also cover most of the cost of the Santana contract. With no options on the contract, Ryu would be on the Royals for the next two seasons while earning $20M a year — the most of any player on the team. However, when you consider that Mike Minor is only on the books for another season before he can be cut loose for almost nothing, the $20.5M the team would’ve been paying to both Santana and Minor this year would essentially be transferred over to Ryu in 2023.

If Ryu re-emerges as a reliable starter, the Royals would essentially have a new version of James Shields to help guide their young rotation. In return, the Blue Jays would be getting a possible bounce-back candidate and some newfound relief in the salary department. This trade has more upside for the Royals than it does for the Blue Jays, but a steady-hitting addition could truly help Toronto's lineup as it makes a possible playoff push in 2022. 

Read More: The Royals Won the Danny Duffy Trade