Hindsight is always 20/20, so it reallly isn't fair to judge the Johan Santana trade within the context of baseball's current landscape, but what if Johan Santana were still a Twin? Consider the following two factors:
1. Andy Pettite was just dragged through agonizing testimony against one of his best friends, Roger Clemens, and is returning to a clubhouse of Yankees who may treat him like Fredo Corleone. He currently projects as their #1 starter, but will carry the weight of the Clemens saga with him wherever he goes. In fact, road trips may be refuge from the New York media for Pettite this season.
2. Curt Schilling is in a spat with Red Sox management over how to manage a shoulder injury. He would like to play through the pain, rehabbing along the way, while team doctors have recommended season ending surgery. Such a surgery would leave the Sox with a rotation of Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Lester, and Bucholz or Tavarez.
Certainly the Yankees and Red Sox would dip their toes back in the trading waters today or at least place the same offers on the table they had in December. Perhaps three teams competing for Santana's services would have compelled the Mets to include Fernando Martinez in their offer, or at least Mike Pelfrey?
We'll never know. But I do believe Santana's rumored threat to exercise his no trade clause and the motivation to end this saga by Twins management before pitchers and catchers reported prevented the Twins from getting the best deal possible.
If only Bill Smith had waited two weeks, that magical leverage would have appeared.