January 3, 2008

Waiting, Wishing, Hoping...

Well still nothing on the Johan Santana front. Not surprising as Major League offices are just opening up after their break for the holidays almost two weeks ago.

The Twins are expected to make a decision soon on Santana. Whether they choose to keep him or trade him is still the talk around the league. And yesterday, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune posted on his blog that he's now heard that the Mariners are
"not in the running for Santana. It's the Mets, Yanks and Red Sox."
Obviously, I'm not too happy with that news as readers of this site know that I'm very high on the "reported" Mariners package and that I think that the Mariners would make a great trading partner with the Twins.

And I can't say that I even see the Yankees as players in it right now. According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the last offer the Yankees gave the Twins was pitcher Phil Hughes, pitching prospect Jeff Marquez, outfielder Melky Cabrera and a 4th prospect that the teams never settled on. It's speculated that that particular deal is no longer on the table and according to Peter Abraham of the LoHud Yankees blog:
There are no indications that the Yankees will suddenly get back into the mix for Johan Santana. It’s more an issue of the contract extension that he would demand than parting with prospects. The Yankees aren’t eager to invest $120 million in a pitcher.
Pretty surprising that the Yankees, of all teams are concerned about giving a player (especially of Santana's caliber) $20 million per season. I think it's more of a "parting with prospects" issue. Sure the Yankees would have to give him at least $20 million per season (perhaps a little more), but that is not something that you'd think would stop the Yankees. Especially since the Yankees are currently paying Mike Mussina (a considerably worse pitcher) $16 million next season, Jason Giambi $21 million (not same position, but regardless he's not even worth half that), and we're talking about the same team that "bid" just over $30 million a year ago for the rights to talk to Diasuke Matsuzaka who later received a 6-year $52 million contract. The contract isn't bad, but they were potentially willing to pay almost $15 million per season (including the $30 million that would go to his Japanese team) for a pitcher who has never played 1 inning of Major League Baseball.

So if it's not about the prospects, then what gives? I find it very hard to believe that it's actually because of a contract extension of $120 million. Yeah, that's a great amount of money to spend on one player over any term of a deal, but it's not something that has held the Yankees back before.

So really, the only two teams which are "in the hunt" for Santana are the Red Sox and Mets. The Twins are still believed to be demanding both Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury from the Red Sox. And it's also assumed that Minnesota is demanding both Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez from the Mets.

I think that if the Yankees are no longer in the mix, that it's very unlikely that they'd actually up the offer of both Lester & Ellsbury thus making the Twins choose between two rumored offers that are still thought to be on the table. I'm not sure what to think of with the Mets, as Omar Minaya has surprised some with a couple of his decisions this season (example: the Lastings Milledge trade), so the Mets may actually consider trading both Gomez and Martinez. The Mets don't want to part with both though, and have countered with the following trade offer:
Option 1 (Red Sox): Lester, Coco Crisp, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie and possibly a 5th prospect
Option 2 (Red Sox): Ellsbury, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie and possibly a 4th prospect
Option 3 (Mets): Gomez, (two of) Phil Humber, Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Mulvey, and a 4th player
With that said, I'm hoping a resolution is coming soon. Of course if the Twins can get a better deal later, I'd be able to live with the anxioty for a little longer, however I don't know if the offers are going to get much better than this. So I'm hoping if the Twins don't like them, they tell the teams to give them their final offers, otherwise go on with the off-season with Santana as the #1 starter and find a center fielder in free agency, or in another trade.