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?