The Twins are rumored to be making him available via trade and would like to move him before the start of spring training. But doing so is not going to be the easiest thing. The Twins, and many other teams/officials feel that Johan Santana is the best pitcher in all of baseball and the Twins should receive a fair amount in return for him. The Twins are said to want one major league star, and an assortment of pretty good prospects.
The teams that are likely to make a play for Santana are the Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Mets, Yankees, and Red Sox.
Here are a few deals from each team that I think would be an acceptable return for Santana.
New York MetsMets trade: Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez, and Deolis Guerra.
Notes: I touched on this potential trade last week. But just to reiterate, the Twins would be receiving two top outfield prospects in Martinez and Gomez and also a pitcher with a very high ceiling in Guerra. Gomez (21), Martinez (19) and Guerra (18) would give the Twins 3 very young players who could really make a difference as the team is opening the new stadium in 2010.
Mets trade: Jose Reyes and Kevin Mulvey
Notes: I think that if the Twins really are intending on acquiring a "major league star" in return for Santana, then they can't get any better than Reyes. Reyes is extremely dangerous on the base paths and although his power declined in '07, he does have potential to hit about 25 home runs. Mulvey is a good pitching prospect who has good control of the strike-zone. This would be a good return for Santana as Reyes is signed for extremely low price until 2011 where he has an $11 million option, which is still very reasonable.
New York YankeesYankees trade: Joba Chamberlain, Melky Cabrera and Eric Duncan
Notes: The Yankees seem unwilling to include either Chamberlain or second baseman Robinson Cano in any deal for Santana, but I think those are the two players the Twins will most definitely covet. Cabrera would be a replacement for Torii Hunter, and Duncan once thought to be the Yankees long-term option at third base still has power numbers, but that's about it. I think he could benefit from a change of scenery.
Yankees trade: Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata
Notes: The Twins would be acquiring one of the best young pitchers in baseball with Hughes and two highly-thought after outfielders in Jackson and Tabata. Unfortunately, neither Jackson or Tabata will likely help in '08, but could be ready to be everyday players in '09. It's also reported that the Yankees would like to try and hold onto Jackson after a strong second half of the '07 season has made him a rising prospect. He was named the 49th top prospect in baseball by MiLB.com. Yesterday I talked about a deal very similar to this.
Yankees trade: Ian Kennedy, Robinson Cano, and Brett Gardner
Notes: The Twins would still be getting a top pitching prospect in Kennedy, and serviceable outfielder in Gardner who could probably start this season. But they'd also be getting a major league star in Cano. Cano has a great swing, like the Twins own Joe Mauer, and he also has good power potential that could reach over 25 per season. The biggest problem with this deal is that although the Twins want to have a left-handed dominate lineup they also need a few right-handers in there too and this would bring none.
Mariners trade: Adam Jones, Matt Clement and Matt Tuiasosopo.
Notes: This deal would give the Twins a potentially great centerfielder in Jones and a good candidate to be DH in Clement. Tuiasosopo isn't a great prospect, but he does have upside and is still very young. He'll likely be in AAA next season as a 22 year old and will have a couple years to prove imself there. Wladimir Balentien is another player I could see the Twins try to get in place of one above, but I doubt the Mariners give up both Jones and Balentien and I think any deal must include Jones.
Boston Red Sox
Red Sox trade: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester and Willy Middlebrooks
Notes: The Red Sox would like to keep Ellsbury and trade Crisp, but if they also want to keep Buckholz and don't want to end up trading 5 or maybe more other top prospects, then one of them has to go. Ellsbury is a very energetic player and has a lot of potential. Lester is a cancer survivor and would give the Twins a potentially very reliable arm. Middlebrooks was a top draft pick in '07 and will likely have to switch positions to short stop as third base is already occupied for at least the next few years. I'm not sure they'd want to trade him as they just drafted him, but it could happen if they are truly serious about trading for Santana. He'd likely be the Twins long-term project at third base if he were acquired.
Red Sox trade: Clay Buchholz, Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie
Notes: Like I mentioned, they'd probably rather trade Crisp, but in doing so, they'd have to give up Buchholz. Crisp is a pretty good replacement in center field as well, and many think he'll be gone regardless if it's in a Santana package or not. Lowrie is a high on base guy and is great at working pitchers to get a good at bat. He's a switch hitter and has probably the same defensive abilities as Jason Bartlett. (he could be good, but makes some costly mistakes with his arm at times and sometimes it seems like the ball is flubber). Buchholz is a potential ace that the Twins would receive as they lose their ace. That would give them Matt Garza, Francisco Liriano, Buchholz and some could argue Kevin Slowey as major league ready potential aces. Not bad considering all are in their low-mid 20's.
Los Angeles Angels
Angels trade: Nick Adenhart, Howie Kendrick and Reggie Willits
Notes: The price is fairly steep, but the Angels as well as the Dodgers have the fire-power to put a deal out of reach. Adenhart is another potential ace that the Twins would acquire, but he's about a year away from being considered to start. Kendrick is one of the best young all-around hitters that I've seen. And Willits is a perfect lead-off candidate with a blistering OBP and the ability to steel a base at any time.
Angels trade: Nick Adenhart, Brandon Wood, and Reggie Willits
Notes: The only think worth mentioning in this deal is that Brandon Wood has some serious power potential, but will need to work a lot on his defense if he wants to be an everyday player. He may be best suited (at least for right now) to be an option at DH.
Angels trade: Nick Green, Chone Figgins, Reggie Willits and Sean Rodriguez
Notes: This deal would give the Twins two very high on-base guys in Figgins and Willits, a potential #4 starter in Green and a shortstop with some serious pop in Rodriguez. I'm not sure if many would want this eal as Figgins and Willits won't give us any power and Rodriguez and Green are still a year or two away from contributing. This I'm guessing won't be a very popular trade among most Twins fans.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Dodgers trade: Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche and Clayton Kershaw
Notes: Many rumors surrounding these players have been popping up left and right. The Dodgers would like to keep Kershaw, unless they can acquire a dominate starter in return. LaRoche and Kemp would fill our holes at third base and center field. Kemp has the bat to be a .300 hitter with a fairly decent amount of power in his career. LaRoche looks like he could be a .275-.280 hitter with 30+ home run potential. Kershaw is another potential ace in return.
Dodgers trade: Matt Kemp, Blake DeWitt, James Loney and Scott Elbert
Notes: James Loney is one of the better young players when it comes to best contact. He also has the frame to build up power potential and could be a dominate hitter some day. I like the numbers I've seen in DeWitt, especially coming from second base. If he could put up near 20 home runs each year with a respectable .275 average, I think he'd be worth a look. Elbert is a big question mark as he missed almost the entire season after having scar-removal surgery on his shoulder.
Dodgers trade: Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche, Delwyn Young and Greg Miller
Notes: Young is a good hitter with a small frame but can drive the ball over the fence. He was once a second baseman and now will likely find himself in the outfield. Miller was once a very feared prospect with a great 9.8 K/9 ratio. He has found himself in a rut the last year and a half or so, but is still only 23 years old and could be a potential steal in a deal with the Dodgers.
Obviously, some of these are debatable. But I think that for the most part, the Twins have some very good options. The opening offers will probably not be this high, but I think that the deals could get bigger than we can even imagine if a few teams (especially rivals) get into the mix.
And speaking of a potential Johan Santana trade, the most recent reports are that that Twins and Yankees are in "preliminary talks" about a trade to bring Johan Santana in the Bronx. It's not speculated on who is being discussed in a deal.