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Santana Trade Thoughts
Posted by Peter Schoenke at 1/29/2008 10:35:00 PM
View more posts by this author

 

The Twins finally pulled the trigger on a Johan Santana trade, sending him to the Mets for outfielder Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber, Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey to Minnesota.

It's not a totally done deal because the Mets have a 72 hour window to sign Santana to a contract extension. While Santana wants a six- or seven-year deal at more than $20 million per year, the Mets likely will open the checkbook having come this far.

I argued last October that the Twins should sign Santana to an extension and make a run in 2008. Things have gone the opposite way.

A few thoughts on the trade:

* Don't call this a small market issue. The Twins could have signed him. Money wasn't an issue with the new stadium coming online in 2010. The Twins offered him a four-year, $80 million extension. He was looking for a seven-year, $140 million contract. But the Twins could have pushed hard to give him more dollars in a shorter deal. The could have offered a four-year, $100 million deal, for example. With an expected revenue boost of $25 million to $50 million per year with the new stadium, and payroll growing to $100 million or more, the Twins could have paid him. However, GM Bill Smith was on record saying he didn't like contracts of that length to pitchers.

* Where are the bats? The Minnesota farm system is devoid of hitting talent in the high minors. Getting only one hitter in this deal is a missed opportunity. The Twins will likely have to deal more pitching prospects for hitting down the road.

* It's hard at this point to really grade Bill Smith on this deal, because it's hard to know what hand he was dealt. Could Smith have even signed Santana to an extension? There were reports Santana didn't want to stay with the Twins. Did Santana and his agent force a deadline on the Twins by saying they wouldn't waive their no trade clause unless something happened by a certain date? It's also hard to know if the reported offers from the Yankees and Red Sox (especially Boston) were legit.

* If you are a Twins fan at least Santana went to the NL. In fact, I'd argue that the Twins wanted to trade Santana to a NL team so much that they'd take 75 percent of the same offer from an AL team. Unlike the Chuck Knoblauch trade, the Twins can be competitive to win the AL title in a few years. So there was a real reason not to give him to an AL rival.

* Joe Nathan, who's in the final year of his contract, has be traded at some point before August. The Twins aren't likely to be in the playoff hunt this season and it's not clear spending $10 million or so a year on a closer fits into their plans. He becomes a very risky pick in AL-only leagues as result.

* With Santana and Hunter gone, the Twins suddenly are far below last year's $75 million payroll (about $25 million by my calculations). Twins ownership usually gives the GM a budget (about 55 percent of revenue), but doesn't pressure him to go vastly under. So where do they spend this money? There are few free agents left. And next season they're going to face a similar gap, which could let them sign a free agent/trade for a veteran.

* Fantasy winners and losers in this deal? Santana's stats are only going to improve in the NL. Boof Bonser probably has more of a secure spot in the rotation. Carlos Gomez has a shot to start in center field on day one, but don't count out some time at Triple-A at just age 22.

* The Twins, and many analysts, keep talking about the Twins planning to have a competitive team when their ballpark opens in 2010. In fact, that always seems to be the plan for new ballparks. But shouldn't the plan be to have a competitive team before the park opens or after the honeymoon wears off? The Twins could be an AL dormat and they're still going to get great attendance the first few years. Better to go for it before the park opens and rebuild/re-tool those first few years. Go into the park with some momentum.

* What if the Mets can't strike a deal with Santana? It's still probably more of a possibility than you think. If Santana really wants a seven-year, $140 million deal, he simply has to just wait a year and pitch for the Twins. He'll get that money in the open market if he doesn't get hurt. It's a risk he could take. Then we're back to square one again.

* If you're a Twins fan and are mad about this deal, the real culprit here is former GM Terry Ryan. Last year at this time he had Santana, Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau all asking for contract extensions. He knew he had money coming from a new stadium in 2010 to get the deals done. But he only signed Mauer. With the inflation in the game due to rising revenues, all those deals would look cheap today. Hunter may have been had for $15 million a year or less; Santana for $15 million a year for maybe less than six years; Morneau's deal certainly would be less than the one he just signed. Then Ryan compounded the problem by not trading Hunter or Carlos Silva at the All-Star break when the Twins were a long shot for the playoffs. He was a great GM, but left on a really bad streak of decisions.

* The Mets are the favorite in the NL if this goes through.


Comments....

I don't believe for a second the rumors that Ellsbury was on the table from the Red Sox and Smith turned them down. If he did, then he's an idiot. But I have a feeling that a lot of the reported proposals were just rumors; like you said, a lot depends upon the hand that was dealt him.


All that said, I don't think it's that bad of a trade. I guess I like Gomez more than most - yeah, he's still raw, but he didn't totally suck when exposed to major league pitching last year, and I like seeing that with someone so young. The pitchers aren't elite prospects, but with the exception of maybe Humber, they're solid "B" prospects.
Posted by Erickson at 1/29/2008 11:42:00 PM
 
Maybe I'm biased as a Yankees fan, but I think as Twins fan, I would have rather seen the Twins land Cabrera/Hughes (I think there was someone else, I know Cano was rumored or other MLs) over Ellsbury/whoever, Lester/whoever, or the 4 they got from the Mets. Now had the Sox offered (which has been reported they weren't) Ellsbury/Lester, that would have been the best offer. Erickson, that's the first time I've heard the phrase "didn't totally suck" as a compliment.
Posted by kevinccp at 1/30/2008 5:21:00 AM
 
Gomez "didn't totally suck" last year - if that's the best that can be said for the best player the Twins got in the deal, that's not good.
Posted by MPStopa at 1/30/2008 6:25:00 AM
 
I'm curious if the Twins went back to the Yankees and asked if they would still do Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and one or two prospects (no Ian Kennedy) for Santana. I think that was a better offer than the Mets deal (or Boston's for that matter). I don't know if that was still something the Yanks would do at this point. So did the Twins prefer the Mets deal, did the Yanks refuse to trade Hughes, or did the Mets not go back and ask the Yanks if their offer still stood (Hughes, Carbrera, prospects, no Kennedy)?
Posted by Stones at 1/30/2008 7:00:00 AM
 
The Mets still have a few issues and are a very old team. Moises Alou turns 42 this year and hasn't played a full season since 2004, Carlos Delgado turns 36 and is coming off of an injury plauged season, which ended with a broken hand, that could be a start of a decline, Brian Schneider is the starting catcher, Pedro Martinez is 36 can't throw harder than 90 MPH anymore, and El Duque is 38 and was one of the luckiest pitchers in the league last year with a .230 BABIP. Damion Easely is 38 and I'll wager a large sum of money that he doesn't duplicate his .824 OPS from last season.

They're still a very good team and probably will be favored to win the NL by most people. I just don't see them as being an uncatchable jaugernaut considering the age and injury risk of so many of their players.
Posted by herbilk at 1/30/2008 7:50:00 AM
 
I don't think the Twins got nearly enough here, as Jim Callis so eloquently stated over at BA. Mulvey and Humber have (arguably) about the same upside as some of the Twins' other 4/5 starter candidates (Blackburn, Manship, etc.). Gomez has some pretty good upside, but is he going to get on base enough to be the top-of-the-order threat the Twins need? 2008 says no, but his minor league track record says "could be". We'll see. Guerra is pretty advanced for his age, but from what I've read, he's far from a sure thing (what teenage pitcher is really?).

Agree that if Ellsbury truly was in the deal, that the Twins were foolish to turn that one down. It's hard to know what to believe really. Supposedly the MARLINS turned down a Billingsley/Loney/Kemp for Cabrera deal. Sure...

Mets fans already planning for their team's trip to the World Series should be pretty confident today, but as Herb said, there's several guys I'd be worried about logging significant DL time.
Posted by vtadave at 1/30/2008 8:34:00 AM
 
I'm just glad (a) he didn't go to the Yankees, and (b) the Red Sox didn't rip up the entire organization to get him. Okay, he's on the Mets, they're the big NL favorites, fine. I can live with that.
Posted by spianow at 1/30/2008 9:16:00 AM
 
The deal I wanted to see the Twins make was what Detroit did. I was rooting for the Twins to pull off a three-way deal to get Cabrera/Willis with prospects going to Florida. I wonder if that was even under consideration. The Twins may have had to throw in another pitcher, but with that kind of deal they could have made a run in 2008.

News today that Santana forced a trade makes this deal look a little better. If the other teams knew the Twins had a deadline, the bottom falls out of the market.
Posted by schoenke at 1/30/2008 9:31:00 AM
 
At least Smith didn't come up empty like Bowden did by not dealing Soriano at all. Now THAT would have totally sucked.
Posted by Jaycees67 at 1/30/2008 10:24:00 AM
 
I just read that the Twins came back to the Yanks asking for Kennedy and Melky and the Yanks denied them. Melky has to be seen as equal to Gomez at this point, no??
Posted by nayfel at 1/30/2008 12:37:00 PM
 
I agree with Herb. Several key Mets have declining skill sets and several are going to be injured. If you combine that with an injury to Wright or Reyes or Santana, they would really have problems. Plus there will be immense pressure on them this year, and being in NY, plus coming off of the choke-job last September...
Posted by MPStopa at 1/30/2008 4:27:00 PM
 
In defense of Gomez, he "didn't totally suck" as a 21-year-old in the majors. And he was pretty darn good (though not great) as a 21-year-old in Triple-A.

Gomez at AAA in '07: .286/.363/.414, 15/23 BB/K against 140 ABs
Carl Crawford at AAA in '02: .297/.335/.456, 20/69 BB/K against 353 ABs

Posted by ESiegrist at 1/31/2008 9:17:00 AM
 
So now Santana is going to make in excess of $22 million a year well into his 30s? Guessing this doesn't end up good, though it will certainly be worthwhile for the next handful of years barring injury.
Posted by vtadave at 2/1/2008 9:44:00 PM
 
I wish Easterners would get off the Elsbury train. Tell me what's so special about him? If he played for Oakland, you probably wouldn't hear about him. He's NO GRADY SIZEMORE, and you hear last year people just start to talk about him.

This last guys comparison to Carl Crawford...what has he done other than steal bases? Pretty solid defender.

The Mets came away GLORIOUS in this trade. I am a diehard Mets fan, and I agree with the above comments about he injuries. But none of you are mentioning Francisco Martinez...who the Mets would not mention in that trade talk. Dude has all the tools and may get some PT this time in the Outfield when Moises alou goes down. Ryan Church was a SOLID defensive pickup who can bat bottom of the order and still hasn't reached his potential. He came on strong with the Natty's last season.

Humber will be a bullpen guy, Gomez a defensive stud with speed and little HR threat. 20 Max a season in his career. I would say perennially 14 a year. The Mets DIDN'T give up Pelfry, either. THey gave up young pitching prospects that are no where near the top of our list. THe Mets pulled one over the Twins management, made them rush to trade Santana, and got away with the best pitcher in baseball for nothing.

The Mets basically told the Twins to get off their high horse and quit asking so much for him, then gave NOTHING in the deal...As of now. The Mets have to win now. Not in 5 years. Delgado and half the players are in contract seasons.

The Twins had the Yankees and SOx sitting in their hands during the winter meetings, and SHOULD HAVE WENT AFTER LESTER or Phil Hughes. I would have talked to the Yankees since they are so hard up for anything. I think the Sox front office is doing a great job and won't panic over anything. They have a loaded system, too. But if I were the Twins, I would have taken the Yankees, with their super-deep pockets.

Posted by tallguy22 at 3/4/2008 9:14:00 AM
 

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