Friday, October 05, 2007

There's No Such Thing as Santana's Clause

There will be number of interesting storylines for Twins fans to follow this offseason. Bill Smith has plenty of things on his plate in his first few months as general manager; Torii Hunter and Carlos Silva are both eligible to become free agents and there are several holes on the offense that seemingly need to be filled from outside the organization. The player whose fate I will be following with the most interest over the next few months, though, is Johan Santana.

Santana is under contract with the Twins through next season, but I would contend that Smith absolutely must make a decision on the left-handed ace this offseason. Whether that means trading Santana or extending his contract, the Twins need to make a move on way or the other because doing nothing could prove tremendously costly.

I already have my doubts about whether the Twins can realistically afford to re-sign Santana, but if it's going to happen, it will need to happen soon. I am quite positive that if the two sides have not reached an agreement by the start of next season, Santana will wait to test free agency, which will almost certainly push him out of the Twins' price range.

If it becomes clear that Santana will not be in Minnesota past the 2008 season, a trade is the only logical avenue for the Twins. Santana told Star Tribune beat writer La Velle E. Neal III earlier this week that he'd be willing to waive his no-trade clause, which eliminates a major stumbling block in any potential efforts to deal him. As Joe Christensen notes on his blog, we are likely to see a ridiculous number of trade rumors involving Santana over the next few months, most of which will have no basis in reality. For his part, Christensen says he thinks there is only about a "1-in-5 chance" that the Santana will be traded between now and next spring. I would presume that the likelihood is a little higher than that, but I suppose I could be wrong.

In my heart, I'm not really rooting for Santana to get traded. He's a very likable guy, a historically great pitcher, and a lot of fun to watch. If Smith can find a way to get a contract extension worked out this winter that makes sense and keeps the Twins in a position where they'll be able to surround Santana with enough talent to win throughout the life of his contract, I'll be a very happy camper. The problem is that I really can't see that happening.

In my mind, the absolute worst thing that could happen would be for the Twins to hang onto Santana for another year, miss the playoffs, and then collect a pair of draft picks next winter when he signs a mega-deal with some big-market franchise. Unfortunately, considering this organization's history, it's probably the most likely outcome.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Nick N. said...

Wow. That's a great honor. Thanks so much to everyone who voted!

MagikLair said...

We're screwed, I don't foresee any Twins signing of Santana. He'll probably just walk after 2008 and we'll get a couple draft picks. The big problem is that, if there is no signing by the start of season then there is going to be all these rumors about whether he is staying or leaving. Such as what was the case for Hunter.

BD said...

IMO, Johan as "free agent to be" won't be as disruptive as Hunter - - - I just can't see Johan running his mouth the way Torii did. It seemed like he was on a 6 month crusade to "make sure" the Twins get the blame for him leaving.

With that said, I agree the Twins need to get something done with Johan this off-season - - - if a deal can't get done, we need to move him.

We aren't the Yankees; we can't paper over our mistakes with money, and dollars spent on one guy are dollars not available for others.

Having enough $$$ to surround Santana (or Mauer or Morneau, etc.) with talent is a big deal for the Twins. IMO, the only way they can keep Santana and still compete will be if they get a home town discount.

Corey said...

Given this organizations history? Precisely which history is it that you draw upon? Which superstars, or stars for that matter, has this organization allowed to simply walk away for nothing more than draft picks?

Hunter certainly, but beyond that, what history is it that you speak of? I'd argue to the contrary. Whebever this team has had an opportunity to deal or re-sign its stars, it far more often than not does precisely that.

Unless of course your referring to guys like Corey Koskie and Jacque Jones, and I'd say thats worked out quite nicely for us wouldn't you? Actually, nearly every move this organization has made since 1998 has been good.

I'm not trying to be an apologist, but neither should you unnecessarily berate them.

It's become public practice to bash those in charge, its fun, the people like to think they're so much wiser. These are of course the same fans who demanded Moss be traded, Glen Mason be run out on a rail, and that Brad Childress/Johnson would save the Vikings.

Nick N. said...

Hunter certainly, but beyond that, what history is it that you speak of? I'd argue to the contrary. Whebever this team has had an opportunity to deal or re-sign its stars, it far more often than not does precisely that.

Hunter, yes, and don't forget Silva. When I said "this organization's history," I was speaking less of their tendency to let superstars go for nothing and more of their generally conservative approach. In the past, the Twins have avoided doing anything to rock the boat -- they have proven time and time again that they are unwilling to take risks. Trading Santana would be a major risk, especially from a PR standpoint, but it's one that could potentially pay off significantly.

Actually, nearly every move this organization has made since 1998 has been good.

Re-signing Rondell White. Signing Ramon Ortiz. Signing Sidney Ponson. Letting Kevin Cameron go for nothing. Letting J.D. Durbin go for nothing. Letting Alex Smit go for nothing. Trading Castillo for essentially nothing. Sitting on Silva.

Those are all bad moves within the last year. If you want me to go all the way back to 1998, I can find plenty more.

Look, I am generally a defender of Terry Ryan and the Twins... I think that for the most part this organization has been run well over the past decade. But to say that "nearly every move" they've made in the past 10 years has been good is a humongous overstatement, and to argue that they haven't been extremely conservative in their overall approach would be to ignore a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Under Ryan, this team did not like to make waves. For better or for worse, Ryan sat on his prospects and nearly always sat still at the deadline, even when the team was in dire need of help.

You can argue that Ryan has made nothing but good moves, but I'll argue that he didn't make a single move to improve the roster during the last two years of his tenure. Not one.

Sometimes it's not the bad moves you make that haunt you... it's the good moves you don't make.

Corey said...

I'd agrue that signing guys like Ortiz, Ponson, and White weren't bad moves.

Bad moves are signings like Barry Zito. The overall impact of those deals was minimal, they were never the sorts of things that would handicap a franchise. Sure, they didn't pan out perfectly but we neither spent large sums of money on them nor committed too many years.

Far too often teams overspend in the FA market to try and make a splash, to make that big move you and the fans always dream of. And far to often, those moves blow up on a team. This is a team that simply cannot afford to shoot big and miss. Its the same rationale you use to say we shouldn't give Torii 5 years.

So no, I stand by my belief that this team has not made a bad move. Not every move has been perfect, but things couldn't reasonably have been done better with the allotted payroll. You can say that we should've taken our shots with guys like Carlos Pena, Jack Cust and Chad Gaudin, but I didn't hear anyone throwing out their names as guys we ought to sign.

Nick N. said...

I don't think that you can argue that the Twins have invested smartly in free agency because of the fact that they haven't signed any guys to huge contracts that have backfired. The reality is that they don't have enough money to make those types of signings. There is a limited amount of money to work with, and Ryan often did not put it to good use. He spent over $6 million last offseason on bringing in Ortiz, Ponson and White as free agents -- none of whom did anything to help the team this year. Don't you think that money could have been invested more wisely?

Sure, signing guys like Ortiz and Batista aren't colossal disasters that cripple a franchise, but they are bad moves -- moves that were obviously bad to most people the second they were made. Ryan consistently goes after low-risk/low-reward guys while passing on players like Frank Thomas who actually have the potential to have a major impact.

In any case, I'm not saying I want the Twins to go out and overpay some aging veteran in free agency. I'm saying that if they can't re-sign Santana, they should trade him. But there would be considerable risk involved with such a move, and it could cause some PR problems. Considering their conservative history, it's the type of move I have a hard time seeing the Twins making.

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