Putting together a trade proposal

Santana wants Zito money
A look at the Rule V draft

Let’s enter the Neighborhood of Make-Believe for a minute, and play a game.

You are a General Manager of a baseball club. It’s your job to field a competitive team within the limits of a budget set by the team’s owner. Using a combination of internally developed players and free agents, you have to build a team each year knowing that, as the seasons tick by, the players that came up through your system will be one step closer to free agency. If you run a mid-market team and happen to land a superstar player through an international signing or a draft pick, you know this player will cash with one of the major market teams when free agency arrives.

So as this player — whether it’s a Johan Santana, a Miguel Cabrera or an Albert Pujols type — gets closer to the end of his contract, you have three choices. You can let him play out the contract and gain a draft pick when this Type A free agent signs somewhere else. You can offer him a contract extension and hope he takes a reasonable offer to stay with his team like Albert Pujols has seemingly done. Or you can try to trade him for the appropriate package as free agency nears.

Now just about every Major League general manager would rather not trade a player that he would probably consider to be the face of a franchise. Why would the Twins want to trade Johan Santana when his mere presence gives the team and their fans hope for a good year and puts fans in the seats?

The answer to that question opens the door to discussions of trade proposals. A General Manager would opt to trade a player like Johan Santana if he can get back star young players who will be under contract to that team for the foreseeable future and will perform well above league average.

Over the last few days, as we’ve discussed Johan Santana and the trade possibilities, I’ve read a lot of proposals. They range from deals including star pitching prospects with decent Major League talent to deals where the Yanks or Red Sox would throw in a lot of spare parts and some younger players who may be good but haven’t been lately. As we move ahead this winter, the former proposals are realistic; the latter are simply wishful thinking on the part of fans looking for a steal of a deal that won’t happen.

If you’re a GM, imagine how you would justify trading Johan Santana for a slew of sub-par prospects. Four B-rated prospects don’t equal that sure-fire ace. While some Boston fans are offering up Coco Crisp and Julian Tavares, and Yankee fans are throwing in Shelley Duncan and Wilson Betemit as starting points, those are unrealistic propsoals.

To get a Johan Santana, an interested team would have to give up a lot. Trade proposals should start with names like Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buccholz, Jon Lester, Phil Hughes, and yes, Robinson Cano. The only way to get the Twins — the team in the real position of power because they hold Santana’s contract — to the table is by offering up something they want and need. Enthusiasm aside, no one really needs or wants Shelley Duncan in exchange for Johan Santana.

So as trade rumors heat up and cool down, think about Make-Believe. Put yourself in the shoes of the other team’s General Manager and ask yourself this: If you were in charge of Johan Santana, would you be able to justify to your team’s fans why you made the trade you’re proposing? We want a steal, but the 30 GMs won’t be taken for a ride all that often. That’s just not the way Major League wheelin’ and dealin’ works.

Santana wants Zito money
A look at the Rule V draft
  • Matt

    If I am really thinking of this trade from Minnesota’s viewpoint, I start by asking for Cano, Chamberlain, and another prospect. I would eventually accept Hughes, Cano, and a prospect, but nothing less. As a Yankee fan as much as I like Cano and realize he is going to be batting champion one day, I would make this deal. Good pitching beats good hitting all the time as we have proved the last 7 years in the playoffs by getting shut down by good pitching.

    I would love it if somehow the Yanks could pachage Kennedy, Cabrera, and any other prospcts to get this deal done, but I doubt it. I would assume Minnesota wants at least one of these three: Chamberlain, Hughes, Cano.

    As for the Sox, they would have to give me Bucholz and Elsbury, plus a prospect as well. Coco is a joke and I would only include him as throw in to add to the deal.

  • Pingback: Santana Redux: When to Walk Away « iYankees

  • Kanst

    Why do the Yankees NEED an ace?

    I dont get trading Hughes and Cano for Santana, hell I dont get trading Kennedy and Cano for Santana. Hughes is going to be a #3 starter at worst and most likely a good #2, why give up 6 years of that just to get Santana, the improvement isnt that huge, and the difference between Cano and a readily available second baseman is larger.

    Lets say Hughes is somewhere between Joe Blanton and Javy Vazquez next year, that would give him a WARP of 7.5 ish. Cano this year was worth 11.8 wins, lets drop that down a little and say 10 wins. That means it is fairl to assume about 17-18 wins of value from Cano and Hughes next season.

    Santana last season was a 9.4 win player and his best year ever was an 11.8 WARP (what Cano scored last season). I just dont see how trading two guys of Cano’s and Hughes skill could ever end up being a good deal for the Yanks. If I am the Yankees my deal starts as Melky, Kennedy and another prospect. If the Twins will throw back a reliever I consider upping it to Hughes and Melky but that is it I would NEVER go higher then that offer. If they dont like it fine, we try to sign Santana after the season and go to war with the guys we got

    • Larry

      The Twins are not in as strong a negotiating position as some may think. At least I don’t think they are.
      First, Santana has a complete no-trade clause, earned after winning his second Cy Young award. This means that he will be able to either nix a trade, no matter how good the deal for the Twins, if he wants to wait until the end of the season or get traded to a particular team.
      Second, with only one year left on his deal no team is going to offer anything to the Twins of any value unless they can negotiate and conclude a deal with him before any trade is made. Meaning if he decides to make a real high moeny demand (as is likely) he will limit the teams to which he can be traded to a few large market teams…again no matter how good the deal is for the Twins. No one is going to give up the family jewels for a one year rental.
      I think the most likely winner in this sweepstakes are the Mets. Minaya is going to need pitching and is going to need to make splash in the offseason…meaning he is likely to be willing to overpay in terms of talent and dollars.
      I think the old Yankees would have given up everyone to get him…but I hope they realize that they can sweat the Twins a bit and the whole ARod adventure should reinforce the idea to the Yankee managment that the number of teams who can always pay blockbuster money is about 1, and they (the Yankees) are that team.

  • http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=56352514 Jamal G

    Can someone please explain to me why it seems that everyone but Yankees fans have high hopes for Phil Hughes as a future ace? I mean damn, everywhere I go whether it be here, NoMass.org, or radio call-ins alot of Yankees fans seem to think Hughes will just be some run-of-the-mill guy. Am I really in the minority here when it comes to the idea that Hughes/Chamberlain will become, or at least have the utter potential to become that sought after two-headed ace?

    Do a couple miles drop in velocity makes us all forget how dominant Hughes was in just his 2nd Major League start? Does the velocity loss overshadow the brilliance he displayed in two postseason outings including the Game 3 appearance that saved the Yankees season albeit for 24 hours? The kid was injured, then he got sucker-punched with an ankle sprain coming back from said injury which threw off his throwing. Im sure we all remeber how dominant Hughes was when he was aggressive in the strike zone and not try to paint the corners every damn pitch.

    Coming into the season he was the 2nd coming…of Clemens, and now it seems alot of us expect him to have a future no better than Jair Jurrjens.

    Honestly what the hell is goin on, why are so many Yankees fan down on Phil Hughes. I mean I can understand if they were just hyped up on Joba but its more than that, they are literally down on Hughes. Why?!

    • The Scout

      Amen. His play-off appearance when he stepped in for multiple innings was a key: he’s not afraid of pressure.

  • tony from the bronx

    The Yankees can not trade Cano.He is a “special” player.You win with players like Cano.Trading Hughes and Cano + for Santanna would not make the Yankees a better team.Who is going to play 2nd.Your giving up a pitcher so you will still be a pitcher short.I agree with the previous post.Hughes and Joba have the ability to be aces.I for one would not trade either.Also then you have to give Santanna a 7yr 130mil + contract.Lets hope the Twins hold on to Santanna and then lets just pay him money and not both.

  • daneptizl

    I completely agree with you Jamal G. I think Hughes is going to be better than Chamberlain throughout their careers because of his control. I used to get mad when people got down on Hughes but I figured that they’ll just have to “be taken by storm” like when Joba came when Hughes comes next year pitching like he did in the minors. Hughes said that he actually expects the velocity lost to come back once he gets on his offseason rest and on his arm program. I also think he’ll return to his approach in the minors where he’ll vary his pitches more (specifically use the change more, which Nardi didn’t understand why he wasn’t doing so when he returned) and show the monster command that he had. If we can make a deal without Hughes/Joba, I’ll most likely like it, but otherwise I’m OK with winning the bidding war against the Sox should he opt to become a free agent. We’ll win this one since the prize is no Dice-K.

  • Rob

    I still think a starting point of Wang and Melky plus a Horne and Marquez/Clippard could git ur dun. No other team can offer a proven #2 like Wang, with three more years under control, and a proven CF like Melky (four years under control). Everyone else would be offering a starting point of potential with high grade prospects. But Wang/Melky have already shown what they’re capable of in baseball’s toughest division. Sure, maybe another team gives three Grade A prospects (Billingsley, Kemp, LaRoche or Buchholz, Ellsbury, Lester) but then the only other way the Yankees can match that is with all of their best pitchers. If teams are offering only two grade A prospects, the Wang/Melky frontend beats that.

  • Spike

    I love Santana, but lets not forget that his numbers have declined slightly the last 3 years. That being said, I’d probably start a package of Wang & Melky and see where it goes from there. I’m keeping the big 3 pitching prospects for now.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

    If you’re keeping the Big 3, you’re not getting Santana. It’s as straightforward as that.

    That’s not to say that Wang/Melky isn’t the best offer the Twins will see for Santana. For all we know, it could be. But if that’s the case, I can see the Twins moving forward with him, using a rotation of Santana, Liriano, Garza, Slowey, and Perkins next year. That’ll be among the tops in the league.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      I also forgot Bonser in that scenario. So the Twins are more than flush with pitching.

  • IE

    Trading Cano would be insane. Besides being one of the best second basemen in the game (only Utley is better in my opinion), he’s young, will only get better and the Yanks have absolutely no one to replace him with. I would rather stand pat with Cano and the big three than trade for Santana. Moreover, if I’m going to trade my top prospects/players, I’d rather have someone like Kazmir.

  • randomize

    Umm what the heck happened to Hughes for the Yankees fans to say Joba’s better?

    Joba pitched 24 ML innings as a reliever, never facing the same hitters twice in the same game, never using more than 2 of his best pitches.

    Will he be a good starter? Probably. How good? No one knows.

    Hughes’ numbers are nothing short of amazing. A no hit bid in his second game against Texas (the ones with Young, Blalock, Kinsler and Tex remember?). A mid 2 era in September. Shut-out relief against the Indians in the playoffs, during a must win game. If you take away his August stats (which I think is fair, since he was pitching scared), then you get a real indication of how good he is.

    I’ll trade Joba before I’ll trade Hughes. Yankees’ fans (most of them) seem to treat Hughes the way the rest of the league treats Kennedy (a scrub).

    He’s an ace barring injury. Mark it down please.

    My proposal for Santana:

    Cano, Kennedy, Melky, Horne/Betances, Melancon/Cox/Sanchez.

    An ML ready starter, average OF/good 4th OF, top 5 2B, a high ceiling starter and a high ceiling relief arm.

    This will probably be too little actually, but I’d rather wait for Santana in FA or look elsewhere (Peavy, Bonderman, Harden, Kazmir) for pitching.

    If the Santana deal falls through, I’d trade Damon & Matsui for prospects. Plug in Gardner in CF and leadoff and Melky in LF with Shelly Duncan as a 4th OF.

  • lloyd from Manhattan

    I’m very confused over these supposed trade proposals for Santana. First of all, everyone needs to chill over how good this guy is. Last yr he had an ERA over 3.3, he’s 29 yrs old, and he showed signs of a tired arm towards the end of the season (he got absolutely pounded a few times). That being said, why the hell is anyone even contemplating trading a package including Hughes (21yrs old) and Cano (23yrs old). Cano was runner up for the batting title 2 seasons ago and Hughes was about to throw a no-hitter in his second career start at the age of 20. How the fuck do u possibly think of trading these guys for a picther who has MAYBE 3 dominant yrs left (and 3 more “good” years after that).

    Moreover, i find it laughable that Boston has been required to include Ellsbury and Buckholtz in a package for Santana. Am i the only one whose confused at the equity of this? How could you possibly say that the Yankess must start with Hughes (12 career starts; 2 postseason appearances; and near no-hitter) AND Cano (3 yr player, batting title runner up, future gold glover; 2 time all star) while the Sox only have to start with Buckholtz (3 career starts; one no hitter, 0 post season appearances) and Ellsbury (60 career at bats!!!). You have to be kidding me, if the Yanks are required to use Cano and Hughes, the Sox have to throw in Buckholtz, Ellsbury, AND Pedroia.

  • brxbmrs


    What you said…on Santana (what he is right now and possibly his future) and what Cano is.

    As for the Sox trading Bucholtz and Ellsbury+ for Santana – I hope they do – let them keep gettting older and more expensive – I think Ellsbury is going to be a tremendous pest for years to come – rather see him do that for any other team than the Red Sox.

  • The Scout

    I’ve said this before: Santana for seven years — his current expectation, and someone will likely give it to him — is absurd. Do that and you’ll be paying for at least three and probably four years of 3rd-starter quality.

  • bkight

    You guys might laugh at trade proposals that include Betemit, Duncan and Melky, but the Twins need to trade Santana THIS off-season if they want actual MLB level players. If they wait until the trade deadline then they will only get back high level prospects who would be years away. The Twins don’t need pitching. Melky would start in CF and probably lead off. Betemit would start at third, allowing Punto to move to 2B and Duncan would provide power from DH(Rondell White?) and occasional OF(Kubel). They are not scrubs.

    If the Dodgers offer some combo of Kemp, Loney, Young, LaRoche and/or Eithier they will probably top our best offer. PLEASE don’t even think of including Cano. He is too young, too good and too cheap to lose.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      They do not need to trade him. They can go into the season with one of the AL’s best rotations and contend in the AL Central. Hell, they have enough arms (Santana, Liriano, Garza, Bonser, Slowey, Perkins, even Baker as a No. 5 guy) that they can trade a non-Santana guy and nab a needed bat.

      It’s going to take one of the Big Three, plus Cano, plus more to get Santana.

      • brxbmrs

        I really hope another team guts its roster of young talent before we do.

        There is no way Santana is worth Cano – Santana is simply not the best pitcher in the AL anymore and if Bedard is healthy next year, he’ll be the best Lefty.

  • dan

    How about no trade for Santana at all? I’ll be perfectly happy watching every team in the majors envy the Yankees rotation for the next 10-15 years, even if it takes not winning the world series this year.

  • bkight

    If they want to let him walk as a FA after next year for draft picks, then you’re right, they don’t need to trade him. I don’t think draft picks are enough for a player like Santana. I wouldn’t trade Cano for anyone, we have too many other chips.

    I just don’t want to see the Red Sox end up with Santana. I could live with the Dodgers, Cubs or Angels, just not Boston.

  • barry

    The way I think of it it just wouldn’t happen. The Twins would conceivably want some combination of Joba, Cano, Melky, or Hughes. If I’m the Yankees GM I refuse to give up any combination of those players for a one year rental cy-young pitcher. Sure he’s the shit but the way I think I get more bang for my buck with those four than with Santana.

  • http://memotosteinbrenner.com Billy

    Hello, I have posted about this trade on and I need to reiterate with some on this website who I completely agree with that you cannot mortgage the future for one player who is 29 years old (in his prime), small in stature, and possibly has 3 ace like years left in his arm. That being said I would still trade for the most dominant starter and lefty in the game. My offer would start with Robbie Cano. He is probably the best pure hitting 2nd baseman in the game whom projects to hit above 300, 25-35 HR’s, and 100 RBI’s. He has excellent above avg. arm strength and decent range. What he lacks at 2nd base which I feel is vital is pure base stealing speed and above avg range. I proposed moving him to 3rd base prior to the circus which never left town in A-RODiculous returning. Now that he is set for 3rd for the next 10 years I feel we can afford to trade Cano. I felt Cano was best suited for 3rd with that arm strength and quick reflexes as well as the 3rd base offensive numbers. I also feel that we are going to need to address the SS position in the future as every year we hear more and more that Jeter has lost a step and probably cost the Yankees at least 20 + hits during the season. I feel that his best position would be 2nd base as he still has excellent range to his right which would cover up the middle and his offensive numbers would be excellent at that position for the next 5 years. We than move in a Gonzalez (Randy Johnson trade) a superior defensive glove to improve our overall defense in the infield. He can hold onto the position until a Carmine Agnello is ready. Jeter should not be placed at 1st as that position may be tied up by a Posada or a power hitting 1st baseman with a good glove in the future. Than a Jesus Montero or Austin Romine can be behind the plate to give Posada much needed breaks. We than add Melky to the trade whom I love and once heard he reminded a GM of a young Kirby Puckett. I would love for him to be half that player and I know the Twins would love that as well. The Twins need young position players and we gave them 2 already. They are gonna want a pitcher back as well even though they are deep in that dept. So we either include a Alan Horne or possibly at best an Ian P. Kennedy. One of the 2 and no more. We now need to fill CF. I feel defensively Brett Gardner is more than ready now. He also adds the ability to steal 40+ bases. He has a plus arm and excellent range and his offense will struggle as he is a slap hitter to all fields but he would be a perfect fit as the number 9 hitter. If he is not ready we give action Jackson a shot. I would not include a Tabata, Jackson, Montero, Gardner, Agnello or Romine in the trade even though the Twins may want more positional players. We just gave them 2 major league young up coming stars. I would consider doing this trade and having a staff in 2008 comprised of Santana, Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy or Horne. If Pettite comes back of course he becomes the number 3 and the other 2 move down. Wow, what a staff. Moose can be the 6th starter, and that is all he should be now.

  • http://memotosteinbrenner.com Billy

    By the way that above comment can be seen on memotosteinbrenner.com as well as other related suggestions about our hot stove 2007-08 chatter.

  • Colter

    A classic, old school Yanks, win-now strategy would be to trade youngsters for a #1 starter and an elite reliever. One idea would be to trade Cano AND Hughes, plus Tabata or Austin Jackson(their choice), plus Melky to the Twins for Santana and Joe Nathan. It’s not a “dream-on” move because the Twins would be getting value; a cheap bona-fide all-star in Cano, plus a number one pitcher in Hughes. They’d also get a cheap temporary replacement for Tori Hunter in Melky and a true, long-term potential star replacement in Tabata or Jackson. The Yanks would would have an insane rotation of Santana, Pettitte, Chamberlain Wang and Mussina(or Horne or Marquez) for next year plus a shut-down bullpen with Nathan and Rivera at the back end. What about Ian Kennedy, you ask? Well, you trade him for Brian Roberts(or even Wang for Roberts). Again, it’s a win now strategy and not necessarily something I would advocate because I like the idea of keeping most of the talented youngsters around(although I guess the suggested trade wouldn’t make them that much older, it would just take away the “home-grown feel”-ahhhh, miss that from my college days:) but it’s hard to argue that the above rotation plus, pretty much, last year’s offense wouldn’t give them a great shot at a championship in ’08; but I guess we’ve heard that before. A similar version of the above trade could be done with the A’s with Haren and Street or the Orioles with Bedard, Bradford(though he’s not quite elite) and Roberts.

  • ohbwonhomie

    why trade at all. its seems people havent realize that trading our farm away or not developing the farm has kept the yanks from bringing #27 home. really do we need santana to be another vazquez or weaver. he is declining and I’m to full and tired to get the info to post. I love all the ideas, insite and conversation posted on this site but if the yanks pull the trigger on such a deal we’ll all regret it. hughes is the real deal, joba no ?, melkman is something special man, doesnt he remind of a young bernie still growing into his role, kennedy definite #2 on most staffs after a full year but a #3 after joba and hughes, wang is one other pitch away from being the best sinker baller in baseball. I dont know, maybe its the turkey and stuffin and pies but lets just stay put. maybe next time i’ll get into how i think our milb is a year from being #1.

  • Pounder

    Back the moving van up to Wangs house and get him out of town.Dan Haren and Joe Blanton are there for the taking,at a much cheaper cost than Santana.