Archive for Johan Santana
What fun would Opening Day be without the New York tabloids questioning the Yankees’ off-season? Today’s (hopefully) last gasp of Johan Santana doubting comes to us from John Harper in a column where the headline and reality don’t seem to line up.
“Scouts say Yankees should have traded for Johan Santana,” the headline on Harper’s latest screams. The article says otherwise:
Over the last week I posed that question to six major league scouts and executives who saw the Yankees multiple times this spring, and for what it’s worth, here is the consensus opinion:
The Yankees could well win multiple championships over the next 10 or so years, thanks largely to a pitching staff built around young guns Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. But this year? Forget it. It’s more likely their streak of 13 straight playoff seasons will come to a crashing halt…
“I love their future,” was the way one scout put it. “But if you think those young guys aren’t going to take their lumps at times this season against American League lineups, you’re dreaming.”
The point Harper is trying to make — that the Yanks should have traded for Johan Santana to win now — is not the one he succeeds in making. Rather, by noting that the Yanks “could win multiple championships over the next 10 years or so,” Harper just proves all of us who were questioning the Santana trade right in the eyes of scouts.
The Yanks didn’t trade for Johan Santana because they too felt they could win for years after Santana loses his effectiveness. Agree or disagree with their decision, the rational has always been as simple and as transparent as that conclusion.
As we head into Opening Day, hopefully this will be the end of the Johan Santana speculation. He’s on the Mets and not the Yankees or the Red Sox (or the Twins who surprisingly ponied up for Joe Nathan instead), and the Yanks are in a position to potentially win a lot and often over the next decade. End of story.
Johan Santana is now under contract for seven years and $150 million. That’s a lot.
I thought that once Johan was dished to the Mets, we’d kinda stop talking about him. We had some intense discussion about him yesterday, but I figured the mob would calm down and realize that this is far from the worst thing that could happen. In fact, as you know we’re going to argue, it’s a good thing.
If you’ve ever played chess, you know that a fatal downfall of any player is to constantly react to his opponent’s moves. If you don’t have a plan of your own and are constantly on the defensive, you’re eventually going to be crushed. Even if your opponent makes a blunder or two, if she’s got a plan and you don’t, you’re going to lose 95 times out of 100.
Another reason why we’ll never be totally sure what happened with Santana and why we can’t always put 100 percent stock into the reports from anonymous sources emerged today. Adam Rubin and Bill Madden in the Daily News say that the Twins wanted Ian Kennedy and Chien-Ming Wang. Bob Klapisch reports that the Twins asked for Melky Cabrera, Ian Kennedy and others. Either way, it seems that the Yanks’ desire to complete the deal under the terms set forth by Minnesota had waned a long time ago. Maybe.
Alright. Let’s put this baby to bed. Barring a complete collapse of the contract negotiations between the Twins and Mets, this is it for RAB and Johan Santana. It’s been some ride, eh?
Anyway, with the Yankees’ missing out on landing Santana, disappointment has enveloped many Yankee bloggers. But we’re immune; the Yankees have Saved the Big 3! They’ve also saved $150 million. But we’ll get there. What is everyone else saying?
Mike Plugh at Canyon of Heroes thinks Bill Smith should be fired. Yankees Chick tends to agree, and Travis G. at New York Yankees Etc. feels that Smith overplayed his hand. Moshe Mandel at The Bronx Block believes that Smith got fleeced. These bloggers are upset because the Twins seemingly turned down or dallied to the point of no return with better offers on the table.
Meanwhile, in the comments to our Santana trade post, not at 106 and climbing, a lot of fans are upset because they feel that the Yankees could have outbid the Twins for Santana without giving up Phil Hughes, the Holy Grail of the trade demands. I don’t think so. Let’s look, one last time, at what happened since November. It’s not as clear cut as we all think.
1. The Twins wanted to trade Johan Santana, but…
We all know that the Twins wanted to trade Johan Santana. With one year left on his contract and no extension forthcoming — despite payouts to Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer — the Twins had to capitalize on Santana by getting back something. For some reason, they felt the need to trade him now before Spring Training or the trade deadline when teams would be more desperate and more willing to give up blue chip pieces to get Santana. Why the Twins acted so soon, we won’t know.
2a. The Red Sox weren’t all that interested
2b. The Yankees weren’t all that interested
David and Aziz at Pride of the Yankees speculate that the Yankees and Red Sox were just using each other to drive up the price. Neither of the AL East superpowers were too keen to give up their hard-earned farm-system spoils for Johan Santana, they speculate. I’ve heard from a few sources that this was more likely the truth than we all initially thought.
First, Boston. According to what I’ve heard, the Red Sox were never serious about trading Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz or Jacoby Ellsbury in a package for Santana. In fact, the offers on the table from the Sox were far below what the media were reporting each day. But unlike the Yankees and Hank Steinbrenner, the Red Sox kept a tight lip on the procedures.
Meanwhile, the Yankees laid their cards on the table but did so in a way to call the Twins’ bluff. The Good Doctor, writing on my post, explains this position:
Has it occured to anybody that neither the Yankees or the Red Sox really wanted Santana? I mean, at least at the price they would have to pay to get him. Did it occur that these two VERY savvy franchises ended up playing the Twins like a fiddle? Let’s face it, clearly the Red Sox and the Yankees both had the players to make the deal happen if they wanted to make it happen. Either team could have beaten the Mets offer without breaking a sweat if they really wanted to, but they didn’t.
The offers that they each reportedly made were disingenuous. First, Hank makes a tremendous offer (Hughes, Melky, etc.), but gives a ridiculous deadline by which the Twins have to accept it. He knew they wouldn’t/couldn’t accept the deadline. Meanwhile, it keeps the BoSox in the hunt, so they talk about Lester and Ellsbury, but that offer too is disingenuous. And in the end, they were reported to have taken the best parts of their reported offers off the table.
The Yankees only wanted to keep Santana out of Boston and the Red Sox wanted to make sure he didn’t go to the Bronx and the only way either one was actually going to pull the trigger on the deal was if the other was really, truly, honestly about to make a real deal for Santana. Neither team wanted him at the price they’d have to pay.
And why didn’t either of those teams want Santana? Because, as we’ve said and The Good Doctor put it, “Both would have given up big time MLB ready, INEXPENSIVE, young players to land Santana, then turn around and pay him $20 – 25 mil a year.” These two teams are not about to add another $25 million a year for seven years. It didn’t work with Kevin Brown or Mike Hampton, and it’s not working out for Barry Zito. Seven-year contracts for pitchers are not sound investments, and there’s no way that Santana’s performance over the course of the contract would have justified the lost pieces and money.
Meanwhile, it seems as though blustery Hank really did know what he was doing after all. Funny how that happens.
3. Bill Smith did not overplay his hand
Smith, an inexperienced GM but a veteran baseball guy with a strong background in talent evaluation, knew what he could get and when. If he ever really thought he could do better than what he got, he would have pulled the trigger sooner. The breaking point came today when Johan Santana basically asked for a resolution. I’m sure the Red Sox and Yankees both said to Smith that their offers would not improve in March or in July.
4. The Twins were not too keen on moving Santana to another AL team
As Casper points out in the comments to this post, it’s quite likely that the Twins did not want to see Santana in the AL. The Twins have a good a shot as any to rebuild into a playoff team before the end of Santana’s eventual contract extension. Why handicap your team by setting up another with your erstwhile ace? Whether or not this consideration led to a sound baseball move is open for debate.
5. Evaluating this non-move won’t happen overnight
For the Yankees to tell whether or not they “lost” out on this non-trade, we’ll have to wait, oh, about six or seven years. Right now, Johan Santana is probably the de facto front runner from NL Cy Young. He’s switching leagues and landing in another pitcher’s park. He’ll get to face the Nationals and Marlins more than a few times as well as the Number 9 slot in the NL batting orders. He’s got it made, and the Mets probably just punched their ticket to at least the NLCS.
Meanwhile, Johan Santana in 2008 will be better than Phil Hughes, barring injury or some sort of miracle. But that’s just year one. When Santana’s making $20 million at the age of 34, and Hughes is outpitching him for less money, we’ll see who’s come out ahead.
Yankee fans are fickle, and the temptation now is to say that the Yanks lost out big. But for once, we’ll have to do what the Yankees did and remain patient with the young kids. They’ll deliver.
Sixteen days until pitchers and catchers…
Update 4:17 p.m.: The Mets have acquired Johan Santana, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Based on reports from sources close the teams, the Twins have accepted the Mets’ offer of Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Deolis Guerra, and Phil Humber in exchange for the All Star lefty. The deal will be complete pending both a physical and a six- or seven-year contract for Santana. The Mets have a two- or three-day window during which they can negotiate.
At this point, I don’t really see this deal falling apart, and if Johan couldn’t land in the Bronx for the right price, seeing him in Queens instead of Boston is a huge positive.
Two well-connected baseball writers – Buster Olney and Jon Heyman – are reporting the same news on the Johan Santana front: The Twins have their final offers in hand, and the Yankees are not one of the suitors.
In keeping with a request from pitcher Johan Santana, the Twins have fielded offers from all interested parties by a mid-day Tuesday deadline, and Minnesota is expected to make a decision soon on whether to keep the left-hander or trade him, perhaps to the Mets — who appear to be strong front-runners — or the Red Sox, sources say.
The Yankees do not appear to be engaged in the Santana talks.
Santana, who completely controls his fate because of the full no-trade clause that he possesses, asked the Twins to make a decision, which is why Minnesota imposed the deadline for offers from the interested team.
Heyman notes that the Yanks informed the Twins that Minnesota could not have Phil Hughes, and the Twins don’t appear interested in other packages that the Yanks could potentially put together.
Meanwhile, despite the Santana-enforced deadline, a trade is not a forgone conclusion. If the Twins don’t like the Mets’ or Red Sox’s final offers, they could sit on Santana until the middle of Spring Training. Olney notes that myriad circumstances from injury to steroid distraction could present themselves to the contending teams that might make them up their offers. Either way, this story should peak this week.
For now, it looks like the Yanks are out of it. While we’re opposed to trading young pitchers away for Johan Santana, a lot of fans are on the fence about the deal. Only time will tell, of course, if the Yanks, showing rare restraint, made the right move here.
The Twins now say they would like an offer from the Yankees for Johan Santana in exchange for a package centered around Melky Cabrera and Phil Hughes. I think they’re a little bit late on this one. Rookie GM Bill Smith is about to learn what happens when you overplay your hand. No more Santana today after this unless, of course, a trade goes down.
Short and sweet because everyone knows where we stand on this topic. Let’s play connect the dots:
- The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Twins will probably trade Johan Santana within the next ten days.
- Buster Olney reports that Jon Lester is off the table.
- The Mets are beginning to think that maybe they are being used by the Twins.
- Meanwhile, Hank will only be so patient with the young pitchers.
So it seems that this saga will play itself out in the next 10 days. Somehow, I don’t think the Yanks are quite yet as out of it as we thought. Surprise.
Kat O’Brien’s story in Newsday today: Nothing moving on the Santana front. Thanks for the update, Kat! Glad to see that Newsday is making the most of their column space. She even had room for this gem from Twins GM Bill Smith:
“We obviously haven’t done a deal.”
Well, that makes everything clear, now doesn’t it?
The Pioneer Press reveals a bit more about the situation this morning, though. Take it away, Charley Walters:
The Twins say they’re not panicking while holding out for the best deal for Johan Santana. But word within baseball circles is that offers by the New York Yankees (no more Phil Hughes) and Boston Red Sox are diminishing by the week. Best bet now for a trade of the two-time Cy Young Award winner appears to be with the New York Mets in a deal that would not include fast-rising hitter Fernando Martinez.
Of course, we’ve heard so damn much about this over the past month and a half that it’s tough to decipher what’s real and what’s not. But Walters clearly implies that the Yankees have taken Phil Hughes off the table. That’s good news. It remains to be seen if the Yankees will prepare an offer centered around different players, probably IPK and Horne, and if that package will surpass what the Red Sox are reportedly willing to offer.
The bigger news, though, is that the Twins are considering trading Santana to the Mets without receiving Fernando Martinez. So now you’ve got Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey, Phil Humber, and Deolis Guerra, which is what was reported earlier this month. It was speculated that if the Mets added Martinez to that package, they’d have a deal. But now it appears that the Twins will settle for less in order to get Johan out of the American League.
Once again, this is all speculation. The only reason it’s even worthy of a post is because it mentioned the Yankees no longer offering Hughes, and the Mets likely not parting with Martinez.
I still say the Twinkies are better off holding onto him. But that’s just my biased opinion.
This one comes from Vincent Gennaro, consultant to Major League Baseball and baseball economics expert. His headline says it all: Santana not worth the tariff.
Santana is only one season from free agency, so much of his value is shifting from the team to the player, yet the Twins seem to be pricing Santana as if he has two or three years remaining until free agency. This trade is basically free-agent signing with a tariff tacked on – a payment to the Twins in the form of promising low-salaried prospects in exchange for the right to sign Santana to a long-term contract without a bidding war.
This is the same thing we’ve been saying here all winter, preferring “bribe” to “tariff.”
Gennaro then goes on to analyze the financial implications of signing Santana, both what he’ll cost and what the potential return on investment will be (i.e., playoff appearances and playoff wins). And then we have my favorite paragraph in the entire piece:
The net impact for the Yankees is a contract extension for Santana that gets the Yankees about $25 million in value, but is more than offset by trading Hughes, Cabrera and one or two other minor league prospects, giving up about $60 to $70 million in value. What would need to happen to make this a good trade for the Yankees? If Santana signs with the Yankees at $5 million to $7 million per year below the price he would have gotten in an open bidding war as a free agent next winter, or if Hughes becomes only a fifth starter or bullpen reliever, the deal could make sense for the Yankees.
I like that rationale. He also discusses the Mets and the Red Sox, saying that the deal makes even less sense for the Red Sox, but wouldn’t be a bad move for the Mets.
He sums up the piece perfectly:
Any team who makes this trade will likely set its farm system back while placing a tremendous investment – and therefore risk – in one player. But if Santana ends up taking the hill in Game 1 of the World Series, the deal will considered a good one.
A very sober analysis indeed. I know some people are going to scoff, saying that the Yankees shouldn’t be worried about money, that they’re a billion-dollar enterprise that won’t see a shortage of cashflow. Yet every single person that says that has never seen the Yankees books. This is Gennaro’s realm, and I tend to defer expertise to him.