Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Another Day, Another Bit Of Santana Torture Speculation

In other words, this piece from the Sporting News, offers no new insights but does present the perspective of a frustrated sportswriter who likes Johan Santana a bit too much. (I don't know if Santana once saved Sean Deveney's life or rescued Deveney's cat from a burning building, but I do know that his column sure seems narrow-minded.)

We know Santana is a bonafide #1 starter, but that does not mean Theo Epstein, Brian Cashman or Omar Minaya have to sell their soul to obtain him. Even when the topic of discussion is a top pitcher in the majors, reason still plays a role in the conversation.

We'll start with the biggest question (on-field, at least) looming over MLB: Why the heck hasn't anyone traded for Johan Santana?

Am I crazy? We're talking Johan Santana, right? He's an ace, a durable lefty available in a market in which back-of-the-rotation starter Carlos Silva signed for $48 million over four years. It's the same market in which Barry Zito, coming off three very average seasons, received $126 million over seven years. How is it that teams are not falling all over themselves to get Santana?

"I think there are a couple of reasons," says one NL executive. "For one thing, the Zito deal is scary. What if you pay him all that money and he falls apart? And there's free agency. Why clear out your best prospects for someone who you can sign next winter?"

Valid points, but again, this is Santana. He is not showing the signs of decline that Zito was showing before signing with the Giants last offseason. And yes, he will be a free agent next winter. The idea, though, is to give him a contract before he hits the open market. It sounds so simple, but no one has done it.

Deveney goes on to mock the reluctance of the three teams with the strongest link to Santana (Yankees, Red Sox, Mets) because each team refuses to add another strong prospect, Ian Kennedy, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Reyes respectively.

Should a team be hesitant to trade two or three top-shelf prospects and couple that proposal with a contract of seven years, $150 million, wouldn't it be smart business (if possible) to explore the opportunity of free agency.

If any team pulls the trigger on a blockbuster deal, it will certainly eliminate the FA avenue of obtaining Santana, but as of right now it appears every team involved with the Santana talks has submitted a representative offer.

If the Twins continue to ask teams to sweeten the pot for the rights to one controlled year of Johan - Minnesota is greatly undervaluing the cost of signing the lefty longterm - Minnesota may well be picking up two draft picks by season's end.

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