Thursday, August 2, 2007

Johan Santana Will Be a Met

Johan Santana's comments following Tuesday’s trade deadline rang loud throughout the Twin Cities.
"You always talk about future, future. ... But if you only worry about the future, then I guess a lot of us won't be part of it…It doesn't make any sense for me to be here, you know?"
After Luis Castillo’s trade to the Mets, Johan and many other Twins were irked. But, let’s be honest, Castillo was not going to sign as a free agent after this season. The fact that Terry Ryan was able to get two minor league prospects for Castillo, an aging vet, with no power, and diminishing range at second base, was impressive. Besides, it’s about time we see what this kid Alexi Casilla really has to offer. Ron Gardenhire has been raving about him since spring training two years ago.

As for Johan, well, as much as I hate to say it, it’s time to trade him. He has one more year on his contract, and there is no chance the lowly Minnesota Twins can afford him. If Barry Zito got $126 mil. over 7 years what will Santana demand? My guess is at least $20 mill per. That’s not “Twins Territory.”

And for those who are holding out hope for a hometown discount, remember these statements from Jayson Stark's March ESPN column:
"I would love to stay here," Santana says, "with this team, in this city, because I love everything about this team and what I do here. But at the same time, this is business. And a lot of things are out of my control. You've got to have a team that's willing to negotiate and to keep you. So if it doesn't work out that way, if that means you have to go somewhere else, it's tough. It's bad. But that's the way it is, because it's a business."
So, I say trade Johan this offseason when we can get equal value for him. Don't wait until the trade deadline next year, like Jim Bowden, who overplayed his hand with Alfonso Soriano. The A.J. Pierzynski trade should be the model. Shoot for prospects, especially young, stud pitchers. This is where the New York Mets come in (do we really want to deal Johan to an A.L. opponent?). Mets G.M Omar Minaya has a track record of giving up prospects for pitchers (he orchestrated the Bartolo Colon for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Philips, and Cliff Lee deal) and would have the capital to sign Johan to a long-term deal.

Terry Ryan would have to seriously consider a package involving Lastings Millledge (Torri Hunter’s possible replacement in center field) and one of the Mets top pitching prospects, Mike Pelfrey or Philip Humber, and a project infielder. This would give the Twins one of the youngest, most talented rotations in baseball: Francisco Liriano, Matt Garza, Pelfrey/Humber, Glen Perkins, and Kevin Slowey. Cheap too. This is the Twins way.

UPDATE (08-20-07): Buster Olney and other MLB general managers agree with my take on the Johan predicament "...If Santana were to say no to an enormous offer from the Twins and instead is intent on capitalizing on his market value -- which might approach eight years and $200 million -- then Minnesota should trade Santana in the offseason, rival executives believe, in order to exploit his trade value...An educated guess now is that Santana would wind up with the Mets, who might back up their prospect truck to get the left-hander."

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