It’s been a while, but as we gear up for the Winter Meetings next week, the Twins have named their asking price for two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana. After Santana declined their extension offer of 4 years and $80M, the Twins are trying to maximize their return on him before he walks. Santana does, however, hold a partial to full no-trade clause (conflicting reports on what it says exactly), so he likely has to approve of any trade. Imagine a rotation spearheaded by Santana, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. That top three could be legendary for a long time. There’s no question you would want to add a guy of his caliber, but the main question has been, how much would Santana cost to acquire?
John Heyman reports that Minnesota would want Jacoby Ellsbury AND either Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester in return for the prize lefty. From the Yankees, they are asking for Melky Cabrera and one of three pitching prospects: Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Ian Kennedy. In my mind, Ellsbury holds an edge over Cabrera because of his speed, better defense and (most importantly) less service time.
From our perspective, that is definitely asking too much for only one guaranteed year of Santana. He is signed for 2008 at about $13M, but is expected to require at least 5 years at $20+ million after that in order to re-sign. If I were Theo, I’d have to consider trading one of these three players, but not two of them. If I had to choose one, I’d say that Lester is the most expendable. Since the Twins are trying to acquire a centerfielder to replace Torii Hunter, no doubt the Sox will try to offer them a package including Coco Crisp. I could maybe see a deal with Lester, Crisp and another prospect happening. Failing that, trading Ellsbury and a lesser pitching prospect would not be a bad option.
The good thing for us is that we are not desperate for pitching. Our league-best rotation from 2007 is still intact, so we are not under any pressure to make a move. But with the Yankees in the bidding, we have to at least have a seat at the table. Heyman also mentions that the Mets, Dodgers, Angels and Mariners have shown interest in trading for Santana.