(Long Island, NY) Johan Santana is a difference maker, the type of player that can rejuvenate an organization that forgot their season lasted into September. The Mets can take away some of the sting from their infamous monumental late-season collapse by acquiring a player that is the hottest on the market. A 28 year-old lefthanded starter with two Cy Young Awards under his belt.
After Santana turned down the Minnesota Twins’ contract extension offer of 4-years, $80 million, the team put out the word that they would be listening to offers for their ace. Competition will be fierce and the teams have already lined up with prospective packages.
If Omar Minaya has any shot at reeling in the biggest fish in the open waters, he will have to sacrifice more than a few rookies. If the small-market Twins want Jose Reyes, the prized shortstop will be worth the gamble – provided the Mets have a 48 to 72-hour window to try and lock-up Santana to an extension. You cannot acquire a pitcher like that and have him walk at the end of the 2008 season.
Sweeten the pot with outfielder Lastings Milledge, middle man Aaron Heilman and starter Mike Pelfrey, or a combination of two of them. You have to trade quality to expect quality in return. Losing Reyes would be huge, but number-one starters are not easy to come by and you have to pounce on them when there is a shot to obtain one. Shortstops are much easier to replace than to groom an ace. If you can get one that is reasonably young, you have to make the deal.
The 2007 World Series champion Boston Red Sox may have the right combination with centerfielder Coco Crisp, starter Jon Lester, minor league shortstop Jed Lowrie and possibly pitcher Michel Bowden.
The Yankees are never left out of a trade discussion and Hank Steinbrenner has lifted the “untouchable” status of his big three young arms, Joba Chamberlain, Phillip Hughes and Ian Kennedy. If the right deal comes along, the Boss’ son would be apt to include up to possibly two of the young guns and also centerfielder Melky Cabrera. Second baseman Robinson Cano is also said to be on Minnesota’s radar.
Gene Michael, Yankees VP, confirmed the Bronx Bombers’ interest in Santana on 1050 ESPN Radio’s Max Kellerman show, but also the questions surrounding any deal for him. “I would love to have him on our team next year, but is the contract going to be too much?” he said. “Is it too many years? Are the players you are going to put in there, are they too much? We don’t know exactly what it is going to take.”
Minaya is reportedly interested in acquiring one of the two Oakland A’s pitchers, Joe Blanton or Dan Haren. Both of their contracts are reasonable and do not run out right away. Haren has two years remaining for a total of $9.5 million, with a 2010 team option at $6.75 million. The righty went 15-9 with a 3.07 ERA last season. Blanton, another righthander, had a 14-10 record and a 3.95 RA a year ago and is eligible for arbitration. The four-year veteran pitched 230 innings and finished with a 14-10 mark and a 3.95 ERA.
While either or both would be a good and solid addition to a rotation that needs arms, neither can hold a candle to Santana. If any of the trading chips are used in a trade with Oakland before every attempt is made to pry Santana out of the Twin Cities, then Minaya has missed the boat.