Joe Christensen had an article in the Star Tribune yesterday reporting that the Mets may be the most likely eventual destination for Johan Santana, noting that they have reportedly offered the Twins a package that includes outfielder Carlos Gomez along with pitchers Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber.
I've always felt that the Mets were a logical trading partner, in that they have a greater need for Santana than the Yankees or Red Sox and thus may be willing to take their offers one step further than either of those clubs. Furthermore, there is little doubt that the Twins would rather send their star left-hander to the National League so as to avoid being forced to face him a couple times during the regular season and -- more frighteningly -- in the AL playoffs.
Christensen reports that the Twins have "told the Mets they'd have a done deal if New York would add prized outfield prospect Fernando Martinez." That's not exactly a minor toss-in, as Martinez is the Mets' top prospect and one of the better outfield prospects in baseball. Yet, if the Mets can make that happen, this is potentially an exciting package with a lot of upside. Martinez reached Double-A last season and held his own despite being just 18 years old, which is extremely impressive. He has tools that scouts rave about; then again, he has only accumulated 563 professional at-bats at this point, and he hasn't put up any jaw-dropping numbers as of yet (which is understandable, given his age), so making him the centerpiece of a Santana deal is a risky proposition.
As for the package the Mets have reportedly already offered, it has some potential but probably isn't significantly better than the offers the Yankees and Red Sox have made. I'm higher on Gomez than most and I like his chances to turn into a Jose Reyes type player. At 22, he's one of the fastest players in all of baseball, which makes him a very exciting player to watch, and I believe he'll build on his patience and power, both of which are fairly meager at this point. The lack of plate discipline is particularly alarming, as he'll never be able to put his blazing speed to good use unless he can get on base at a decent rate, but he is young and raw.
Along with Gomez, Guerra is the other enticing piece in the Mets' reported offer. A Venezuelan right-hander who won't turn 19 until April, Guerra has already put in a full season at Advanced Single-A, posting decent numbers against older and more experienced hitters. At 6'5" and 220 lbs., Guerra is an imposing figure on the mound and he brings a very good changeup which could become even more effective as he adds velocity to his fastball. Of course, Guerra is still at least a couple years away, and judging teenage pitching prospects is always a tricky task, so naturally there is a lot of risk involved with making him the centerpiece pitcher in a Santana deal.
Mulvey and Humber, the two others mentioned in the package, are decent pitchers who I don't believe will develop into above-average major-leaguers. The Twins already have numerous similar pitchers in the shape of guys like Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing and Jeff Manship -- guys who can put the ball in the strike zone consistently but lack exceptional stuff. I'd prefer to see the punchless Twins get more offense out of a Santana deal than one speedy center field who could well become the next Juan Pierre, which is why the Mets' offer isn't overly appealing unless Martinez is involved.
At this point, with the offers that are reportedly on the table, I still feel that the Yankees' package is the best. Phil Hughes remains the best player mentioned in any trade discussions, Melky Cabrera provides a solid young outfielder, and the additional prospect or two added to the deal would help stock the Twins' system. The Mets, however, appear to be serious bidders, and if they can adjust their deal a bit and find a way to include both Gomez and Martinez, they might be the club that comes out on top in these lengthy Santana Sweepstakes.