Monday, March 05, 2007

Santana Gives the Ultimatum

Twins got a bit of bad news this weekend. Or perhaps, it will turn out to be good. It's kind of hard to know now. What we do know is that Johan Santana has given the Twins until the end of spring training to work out a deal with him.

Sure, many will say that Santana has given the Twins more than just the spring to work out a deal. After all, he says himself that, "The closer I get to free agency the more difficult it will be (to work out a long-term deal)." But I would say that if the Twins fail to get a deal done very soon, they have no chance to re-sign him beyond 2008.

Santana clearly knows where the market is going right now; it's only going to go higher and higher. And he knows that the Twins likely won't be able to pay whatever the market price is in a year, nor after the 2008 season. He has made it clear that he knows what Barry Zito's contract means to his value.

Santana says that he's "happy (with) the way things have gone in Minnesota" and he says that he'd "like to stay here for a long time," but that if he opts for free agency, his "agent will be the one in charge of the next contract." Translated that means he's fine with how things are now, but he won't mind taking the bigs bucks in a few years.

What this means is the Twins can absolutely not afford to make Santana a low-ball offer. I just don't think he will give the Twins much of a hometown discount. If anything, their first offer should probably be in the 3-year, $60 million range at least. If Terry Ryan can't do that, Twins fans should probably make the sad decision to accept that Santana will be wearing pinstripes in two years.

If it happens that Ryan doesn't try hard enough or just can't get a deal done, he should try and trade Santana before or during the 2008 season. These are all sad and hard facts to accept, but Santana has, in some ways, done the Twins a favor. He's given them a deadline. If they can't make it, they can still get value for him, knowing that they won't have a chance to sign him past next year.

Unfortunately, Santana's warning isn't the only news for the Twins this weekend. Here are a few bits to discuss from spring training games:

* Scott Baker continues to look absolutely lost on the mound. Baker has pitched 3 1/3 innings so far and he has given up 13 hits, 9 runs, and has walked three hitters. He has struck out five, but otherwise, he's shown poor control and has absolutely been knocked around. Its only 3 1/3 innings, but there aren't many positives from Baker's performance so far.

* Santana was a little rusty in his first Spring Training start. He pitched two innings against Boston yesterday, giving up a run on three hits, while walking three and striking out two. Of course, I wouldn't worry about Santana at all.

* The Twins' offense has not been very potent so far, as they have scored a total nine runs. And most of the runs came against the "great" pitching of the Reds.

* Speaking of the Reds, I'll end this post by asking fans what they think of the Torii beaning: Intentional or not?

8 comments:

Kris said...

It basically sounds like the Twins will soon have to decide between keeping Santana at a bargain price for the next two years or paying him closer to market value to have him for the next 4 or 5 years.

WinTwins57 said...

I may be wrong, but I think the Twins have to trade him this year because he has a no trade clause for next year? I just hope they can get something done. It would kill me to see Santana in Yankee pinstripes. UGH!

The beaning - unintentional, but not surprising... Lohse sucks!

Stuff said...

It would create quite the precedent, if they went and signed him. I would love to see it but i would also hate seeing him anywhere in the American league, besides here.

Beaning, "Loshe sucks!" that about says it, good luck with him Cincy.

Nick M. said...

Can't disagree with anything said here guys. Anyone who read this blog last year or the year before knows that I am not a fan of Lohse.

As for Johan, thats the choice it will boil down to kris. And Terry Ryan definitely knows it. I think that the Twins won't lose much by signing him because he brings in so many fans. Likewise, losing him "saves" the Twins money, but they'll lose plenty in ticket sales without him, even with Mauer around for years.

Dan said...

I'm a little surprised Santana came out and said this. I guess more and more now big time atheletes are giving the "Sign me or I'm walking' card. I just don't know exactly what this accomplishes. Its not like Ryan, who is easily one of the best 3 GM's in the game, doesn't realize Santanas status with his contract and all of a sudden he has a wake up call.


All in all the Twins will work to resign him. They at best will give a competing offer that would be fair, but ultimatley it will be up to Santana. If he strictly chooses who will offer the largest contract, the Twins won't be able to come close.

That would be hard b/c I want to see Santana pitch all of next year with Liriano and make a run at the Series, so I like your 3 year/ 60 mil proposal extension. I think the Twins can handle that.

It has been rumored that the Yanks are stockpilling some prospects for a trade down the road if a deal can't get worked out.

Anonymous said...

As it now stands, Santana has a full no trade clause for this season by virtue of his winning the Cy Young award last season. Next season he has at minimum the right to block trades to 12 of the other 29 MLB franchises, and, depending upon who you read, may invoke a full no-trade clause if he finishes in the top 3 of Cy Young voting this season. Some even say his Cy Young win in 06 guarantees a full no-trade clause for both seasons, but I cannot verify that.

What I do know is that the Twins cannot trade Santana this season without him waiving the clause. It is highly likely that the Twins will be unable to trade him next year also, or even if they can, he will be able to block 12 franchises at least.

I do not think there is any hope of a trade involving Johan Santana. Not because teams wouldn't give up good value, but because his contract is written to preclude just that.

It's sign him or watch him go. I will bet the house, the farm and fifty dollars he is gone. This franchise will NEVER spend that kind of money on one player, superstar or no. Yes, they signed Puckett. Yes, they signed Knoblauch. And at the time those guys were making top dollar, however, at those moments in time, the Twins weren't paying a Mauer, Morneau, Nathan, etc the kind of money the Twins are now going to be shelling out.

Perhaps they can intice Johan to waive the no-trade with a big money settlement. That is possible. Otherwise, he is gone for NOTHING. Small and mid revenue teams cannot hold as much talent as the Twins do right now for long. It is simply an economic fact of baseball life. It pains me to say this and I pray it works out. But to keep Johan, they'd have to rip up his current deal, then go 4/75 or 5/90 plus to make it happen. The Twins rarely if ever renegotiate contracts. If they have to pay even "near market" for the years beyond 2008, Kris is right on--20 MM per is a starting point, at which Terry Ryan will choke, gasp, and faint dead away.

Nick M. said...

Anonymous -

I think your being just slightly cynical about the situation. Keep in mind that the Twins are raising payroll and have extra money with revenue-sharing.

Signing Santana is more tied to the stadium situation then anything else. If it doesn't go through, there will be little chance to sign him.

However, you are going a little far in suggesting that a no-trade clause means we can't trade him. Are you kidding? You don't think Santana would be inticed into taking a trade to the Yankees if they had a huge extension on the table? Sure, he'd limit it to certain teams, but there is no reason to think that Santana would not waive it.

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