December 3, 2007

Santana trade update

Update 3:55 pm: According to a "high-ranking source" with the Twins, the team is "in no hurry" to trade the hurling left-hander and the club doesn't seem phased by New York's "deadline" that they've set for today.

This is a risky move in my opinion. If the Yankees drop out, they loose a lot of leverage that they have with the Red Sox. I personally don't see the Twins getting what it is that they feel is a good return for Santana, and I also don't see the team ponying up the money to re-sign him, so I think the team would be best suited to just trade him now for the best offer and move on. The sooner the better in my opinion.

I understand that the team shouldn't trade him just to trade him, they need to get something in return, but I think that it's unrealistic for their wants to be matched and I don't want to see the team walk away with just a couple of draft picks.

They have two offers on the table. One gives them the player with the highest potential in either deal in Phil Hughes, and an adequate major leaguer in Melky Cabrera. The other deal probably would fill more holes that the Twins have, as I don't think the team should be desperate to find a pitcher in a deal for Santana. Ellsbury would handle center, and Lowrie would be a fine replacement for Jason Bartlett.

I shouldn't be surprised if they don't choose to trade him. The Twins have never been associated with blockbuster-type deals, so it's not that big of a surprise if it doesn't happen. I just thought that under new GM Billy Smith, that things would be a little different. But don't get me wrong, I will not be upset if we don't trade Santana, I like him, but I don't see the team keeping him long-term.

Update 1:10 pm: According to Buster Olney, there are "whispers" of the Twins holding onto Santana in order to give themselves a 1-2 punch with Francisco Liriano returning. I could see the Twins doing this, as it doesn't seem like they are happy with either of the offers from the Red Sox and Yankees.

Update 11:15 am:
The Yankees are set to re-sign pitcher Andy Pettitte. I'm not sure if this plays a part in the talks with Minnesota regarding Santana, but it might. It'll give the Yankees 6 starting pitchers if they trade for Santana, even if they trade Hughes.

According to La Velle E. Neal III, Johan Santana has not told them that he won't only waive his no-trade clause if it's to New York or Boston. Neal also said that the Twins are "not happy" with Hank Steinbrenners comments on Sunday, and tampering charges are possible.

Update 12:30 am: Besides telling the Twins that he won't waive his no-trade clause mid-season, reports are that he is now telling the Twins that he'll only waive it if it's to either to New York or Boston. This further pushes the Twins to make a deal sometime Monday as it eliminates teams such as the Dodgers, Mariners and Angels from discussions.

As of 11:59 pm on Sunday night, the Twins have not made a trade with any club involving Johan Santana. That's not to say it couldn't still happen tonight, I just want to mention that as of right now, nothing has happened.

The last time I posted, I responded to the reports of the Yankees including Phil Hughes in an offer for the Twins left-handed hurler. Also rumored to be in that deal is 22-year-old outfielder Melky Cabrera and another unnamed third player. Most likely a prospect.

The Twins are considering that deal, as well as a new offer from the Boston Red Sox that would bring the Twins 24-year-old outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and probably an assortment of prospects that could include shortstop Jed Lowrie, and pitchers Justin Masterson and/or Michael Bowden. Ellsbury is a speedy outfielder who has demonstrated very good on-base skills and has been a big threat after he's been on base to advance by stealing. He has also displayed great defense and was a catalyst to the Red Sox successful post-season in '07 which resulted in them winning their second World Series title in the last 4 years.

Which deal would I prefer? As much as I like Phil Hughes' potential, I have to go with the Red Sox offer. Pretty bad considering that all I know is Ellsbury is the centerpiece. It could be Ellsbury and Julian Tavarez coming in return for all I know, but the rumor is that Ellsbury will probably be on the table as is 2 or 3 of the prospects I listed.

I think that the Twins would have a very exciting young lineup next season, and for the better part of the next decade if they make that deal. Ellsbury would be a great fit in center and would help fans cope with the loss of Torii Hunter. Lowrie is not a high-profile prospect, but his .291/.386/.488 stats through 1,072 MiLB at bats, is very promising. According to, his MLB comparison is Carlos Guillen, which is the exact player I had in mind when I though of his comparison.

I would like the Twins to get Jon Lester in a deal as well, but I can't envision them giving him up. But I do have a little beef about that. As smart as they might be, if they can get a deal without trading Lester, I think it's very foolish to let that stand in the way (at the moment) of a potential blockbuster. The Red Sox have one of the best rotations in baseball, with or without Santana. And Lester probably will be nothing more than a #5 starter for them with Josh Beckett, Diasuke "Dice-K" Matsuzaka, Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling and Santana in the rotation and Bowden & Masterson (Who they'd probably keep at that point) in the wings for '09.

I know that the Red Sox would like to do a deal without him, I just think the Twins should wait until the last minute to accept a deal without him.

And speaking of the "last minute" to make a deal, the Yankees have given the Twins a deadline set for Monday afternoon (haven't heard of a specific time) to accept or decline the offer on the table, thus ending talks with the "Bronx Bombers." I wonder if this "deadline" is the same type of situation when they said that they wouldn't negotiate a contract with Alex Rodriguez after he opts out of his contract, and now he has all but signed a new record-breaking contract that could make him over $300 million.

I have a hard time believing that this is set in stone, despite what Hank Steinbrenner has to say.

The hard part for the Twins, is that if the Yankees do move on, they loose all the leverage they had with the Red Sox who would probably turn around and make a very low offer. So the Twins will probably make their decision on what they plan to do with him by Monday night at some time.

And just another reason to push for a trade, according to Ken Rosenthal, Johan Santana has informed the Twins that he would not wave his no-trade clause in the middle of the season. That means one of two things; trade him sometime soon and right now would probably be the best time with the best offers, or try to work out a deal with him to keep him in a Twins uniform past the '08 season. The Twins do have another option of letting him leave as a free agent after next season and acquire some draft picks, but I really don't think the Twins prefer to do that.

A good deal from the Red Sox if they do not want to give up Jon Lester could be to add 25-year-old reliever Manny Delcarmen along with Ellsbury and a prospect or two. Delcarmen, Ellsbury, Lowrie and Masterson would be a great return in my mind for Santana. It gives the Twins another young arm if in the future they decide to trade closer Joe Nathan.

Stay tuned, I expect a lot of questions to be answered later today and I will be giving my thoughts to anything that transpires.