But after a six-game winning streak that has given the Royals their best July record in a decade, they're less motivated than ever to sell. And perhaps more motivated than ever to buy.
Santana and reliever Luke Hochevar now won't be traded unless the Royals are "overwhelmed by the offer," a source familiar with their plans said Sunday night. Meanwhile, the Royals will continue looking to add, with a focus on players who are under control next year.
Santana can be a free agent at the end of the season, but Royals people say they'd like to find a way to keep him.
For now, the Royals remain a longshot to catch the Tigers in the American League Central. They remain seven games out of first place, just one game closer than they were when their recent hot streak began.
But the Royals always believed that a strong finish this season mattered, whether or not they had a real chance to make the playoffs.
Now, a Santana trade seems just as much of a longshot.