Weekend BlogFebruary 02, 2008
The Value of Johan Santana?
By The Baseball Analysts Staff

I know, I know. Santana had just a year remaining before unrestricted free agency and demanded an extension in order to sign off on any deal. That matters, so I do not want to make this come off as an apples to apples comparison.

With that out of the way, let me now comment on something that I think is just astounding. The Twins may have yielded less for Santana than any of the other high profile deals involving youngsters/prospects this off-season. As far as I can tell, there have been five deals this off-season in which significant prospects (or at least good, very young MLB'ers) changed hands. Below is a summary of the deals, with Top 100 rankings by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, Keith Law of ESPN and John Sickels.

Johan Santana to the Mets. Mets return to Minnesota:

             Age    Pos    KG    KL    JS
C. Gomez     22     OF     65    35    52 
P. Humber    26     RHP    NR    NR    NR
D. Guerra    19     RHP    79    80    36
K. Mulvey    23     RHP    NR    NR    37

Nick Swisher to the White Sox. White Sox return to Oakland:

               Age    Pos    KG    KL    JS
G. Gonzalez    22     LHP    56    NR    29 
De Los Santos  22     RHP    46    57    57
Ryan Sweeney          OF  (MLB in 2007) 

Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks. Snakes return to Oakland:

               Age    Pos    KG    KL    JS
B. Anderson    20     LHP    50    NR    48 
A. Cunningham  22     OF     NR    NR    NR
Dana Eveland   24     RHP    NR    NR    NR
Greg Smith     24     LHP    NR    NR    NR 
C. Gonzalez    22     OF     26    42    39 

Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to the Rays. Rays return to Minnesota:

               Age    Pos    KG    KL    JS
Delmon Young   22     OF  .288/.316/.408 (MLB) 
J. Pridie      24     OF     NR    NR    NR
B. Harris      27     2B  .286/.343/.434 (MLB)

Ryan Church, Brian Schneider to the Mets. Mets return to Washington:

               Age    Pos    KG    KL    JS
L. Milledge    23     OF  .272/.341/.446 (MLB)

Have a look at those packages and tell me, did the Twins get the best one? I am not sure they did. In fact, I think they may have received more for Garza and I think the Mets may have gave up more for two middling players from Washington. I know there are many variables that enter into a deal of this nature but I remain astounded that in this market, one in which top prospects have been changing hands for solid, established talent, Minnesota could not get more in return.

Patrick Sullivan, 2/3/08, 4:21 PM EST


Eh, no Willis-Cabrera-Maybin deal?

Oops. Left out the Tejada deal too. I think my point remains though.

Santana gave the Twins a deadline to void his no-trade clause, which forced their hand. If I was the GM, I would have done everything possible to get Jacoby Ellsbury in a deal with the Red Sox.

You could also include the Twins/Rays trade from the other perspective. Garza's barely a major leaguer and Bartlett only has one season under his belt. If I'm voting, this is the combination I'd most want for my team if I'm allowed to consider the apples.

I know, I know. Santana had just a year remaining before unrestricted free agency and demanded an extension in order to sign off on any deal.

Well, that's exactly the point. Everything else that you wrote derives from this very basic fact. His trade value was relatively low because of these reasons. 2 + 2 = 4. If anything at all is new here, it is only that more people have learned through this trade that 2 + 2 = 4.

Carlos Gomez may never be Ellsbury, but he also probably won't cost as much in the future. I'm thinking he can be close enough for a better price. Money is the reason the Twins no longer have Hunter and Santana. I do find it odd they paid so much for Morneau, however.

Trieu - I didn't go into it because it's been rehashed elsewhere but let's face it; the Twins got way, way less than they could have for Santana. BOS and NYY had both offered far superior packages.

You're dealing with apples and oranges for Haren v Santana. Santana was in the last year of his deal while Haren has a few more years under control. It is tough to compare the deals when the circumstances are that much different. Locking up Haren for 3 yrs before FA is more valuable than gaining exclusive rights to negotiate with Santana on his next deal.

I've seen a lot of people talking about how the Twins needed to trade Santana because of his threat to veto a trade. However, that leverage only existed if the Twins took it seriously. If the Twins decided to not trade him now and attempt to trade him at the deadline (or sometime during the season) there would be no reason to veto a trade (he'd rather be with a contender then playing out the string with the Twins I would think). And it's not like the Twins would get less for him then as they didn't really get much for him now. Essentially the Twins gave him the only leverage he really had -- not exactly the buy low, sell high strategy that you want.

The Twins really butchered their handling of Santana throughout his career there. Not only did they trade him at the wrong time to get a poor package of prospects, but they also weren't smart enough to make him a full-time starter in 2002-2003.

I'm thinking Dusty Baker would be the kind of guy to make Santana a fulltime starter in 2002-2003, and he isn't exactly considered one of the bright managers in major league baseball. Just saying that's how it goes these days. Someone here wrote an article about how most young pitchers are babied.

Trieu is right. You can't say
"I know, I know. Santana had just a year remaining before unrestricted free agency and demanded an extension in order to sign off on any deal."
and then do the analysis as if it was just a side issue.

Santana had something like 10-15MM in surplus value. That's it.

Santana is the best pitcher in baseball, but it's going to cost you in money.

If the Orioles trade Bedard that will probably move to the top of the list. Adam Jones is probably the best prospect being thrown around in any of these deals except for Delmon Young, who has quite a bit of major league experience so far for a 22 year old.

As for the other deals on the table that the Twins could have gotten during the Winter Meetings, Phil Hughes has the highest ceiling of anyone they were offered. And, despite all of the Ellsbury hype, Melky Cabrera is younger and likely will be a better player due to the fact that he reached the majors sooner and already has shown a bit of power at the ML level.

You missed one... Sickels has Humber rated #49 in his rotowire poll... ahead of Gomez

what about the Mark Teixeria trade...I know it was mid season but Andrus is widely regarded, along with 99 mile an hour Neftali Feliz and control whiz Matt Harrison who tore up the AZL