Mike Claiborne of AM 550 said it last night on the pregame show.

“I want Santana.”

Well, duh, who doesn’t?  That’s something I’ve been talking about here for a little while.  However, can we make it happen?  I was expecting that we’d have to wait until the 2008 offseason, when he’d be a free agent, to even be able to consider it.  That’s probably still true, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do some daydreaming.

I’ve never been good at coming up with trades, so I would expect ridicule in the comments for this one.  (Hey, at least then I’d be getting comments!)  I’ll explain why I think it might be feasible, but let’s lay it out there.

Johan Santana for Chris Duncan, Anthony Reyes, Bryan Anderson, and another prospect.

OK, so let’s look at this semi-rationally, if at all possible.   Minnesota will have to decide 1) if they are going to contend next year, 2) if they have a chance of resigning Santana and 3) whether it makes sense to maximize the yield by trading him in the offseason rather than the trade deadline.

Santana’s contract for next year is $13.25 million, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.  There are a few bonuses, and as I read it he does have a no-trade clause.  However, after his comments at the deadline, he possibly could be persuaded to have that bought out.

Money-wise, this would be a slam dunk for the Twins.  From the same site, Duncan made $400K this year.  You’d expect that will go up a bit, but he is not arbitration eligible yet, so the Cardinals don’t have to do anything big.  Reyes made just under $400K, and the same applies to him.  Anderson would make the league minimum, whenever he made the majors, and likely the other prospect, maybe Jamie Garcia or Mark Hamilton, would do the same.  So, add that all up, you get not even a million for next year.  That’s a large savings for Minnesota, which has often been pinching pennies in the past.  That would let them make a run at Torii Hunter, if they wanted, or come to terms with people like Joe Mauer, Joe Nathan or Justin Morneau.

So, financially, it’s good for them.  How about talent?

They have tried to come to terms with Morneau in the past, wanting to buy out his arbitration rights.  If they were to get Duncan, either they could trade Morneau, bringing in young pitching such as maybe a Philip Hughes (if they wanted to deal with the Yankees) or Dontrelle Willis + (if the Marlins would move him) to help fill the Santana gap, or use the leverage of having Duncan to get Morneau to sign, leaving them free to DH Duncan, put him in the outfield, or flip him for pitching (though of a lesser quality).

We know that Reyes has struggled this year.  However, many people still think he could regain a lot of his former luster if he and Dave Duncan were physically separated.  If he could regain the #2 potential some think/thought he had, he’d make that deal look pretty good to the Twins.  They’ve also had plenty of experience in developing young players, so it seems reasonable to think that Reyes could flourish there.

Anderson has been rated one of the top catching prospects in the majors.  The Twins, obviously, have a pretty darn good catcher in Mauer, but there has been talk about moving him from behind the plate, due to health issues.  If they were to do that in the next year or so, Anderson could move into that spot and help alleviate the drop off in production you’d expect from the move.

As for the other prospect, it’d probably depend on what the Twins wanted.  Someone like Garcia could be good because, as you know, you can never have enough pitching.  Hamilton is blocked by Pujols and could be moved, but with Morneau and Duncan (if this went through) there’d be little need for him.

So there’s the rationale for the Twins.  They save money, they get a good bit of talent, and as an added bonus they send him to the National League, so they don’t have to face him for hopefully a long time.

What about the Cardinals?  Obviously, they are very motivated to obtain pitching.  No one wants to go through a year like this one again.  There’s nothing interesting on the free agent market, so you are going to have to grab someone via trade.

This will also invigorate not only the fan base but the players.  There would be no questions about whether people really want to win or if ownership is only in it for the money.  To shut people up about their financial commitment, a window for negotiating an extension should be part of the deal, but they shouldn’t try to do anything but come at market value for Santana.  Sure, it’s going to cost, but it also almost guarantees (if health permits) another long run of division titles and makes the Cardinals a favorite in the postseason.

I’ve thought before, but imagine a healthy Carpenter, Santana and Wainwright going in a short series.  If pitching wins championships, you could add another ring or two in the next couple of years.  Santana had a less-than-stellar second half, but 1) he’s the best pitcher in baseball, and you are going to get very few dissenters and 2) he would be moving to the NL, which should bring his ERA down and his wins up.  He’d be even better facing only 8 hitters and a pitcher every night than he’s been in the DH league, and that’s saying something.  (Plus, you get him away from the Indians, who seem to have figured him out, winning all 5 games against him in ’07.)

This would take a major commitment in terms of personnel and money.  You’d have to replace Duncan’s bat somehow, but that’s the only thing you are taking from this team, and right now there are a number of outfielders in the system, though none with Duncan’s pop.  A full year of Ankiel could help in that regard, plus return to forms by Rolen and Pujols.  With these guys on the mound, though, a league-average offense should be enough to be a winner.

Will Walt take the plunge?  How will the new GM in Minnesota feel about making such a radical move so soon into his tenure?  Lots of questions around this, but, oh, the possibilities……………


7 Responses to “Daydreaming”

  1. Rockin' the Red Says:

    That sounds amazing, but in all honesty I don’t see that happening. First of all, I don’t think the Twins will let Santana walk – they have a once in a lifetime pitcher on their hands and would absolutely be sending the wrong message to their fans by letting him go. Secondly, I don’t think that’s enough talent for him. The Dodgers are rumored to be shopping Matt Kemp – he alone would be worth more than Duncan and Reyes. There’s plenty of teams that could easily outdo us talent-wise, especially a low level team hoping to make a big splash and increase payroll. Otherwise, Walt would jump on that immediately… at least I hope he would.

  2. cardinal70 Says:

    I don’t know that I’d say Kemp is worth Duncan and Reyes. Though I’ve not followed him all that closely, could he match Duncan’s 30 HR potential? And Reyes, remember, has a higher cachet to other teams than he does to the Cardinals.

    If you keep Santana, you can’t keep Nathan and Morneau, most definitely, and maybe not Mauer. With Hunter gone as well, is it worth sacrificing your near future to keep a guy like him? Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely the best and I think, if Minnesota had a bigger payroll, they’d definitely keep him.

    Between that and the fact that he wasn’t real happy with management this year, I think it’s a strong possibility that he tests the market next year. And the Twins can’t afford to let it go that far.

    I’m sure that there are other teams that can offer more for him, but I think sending him to the NL would help limit some of those teams. You know you don’t want to deal him to a team that could keep you out of the playoffs with him. Factor in the big payroll commitment you have to make to him and it really limits it down to the Mets and Dodgers, and the Dodgers just went out and got Schmidt. (I’d say the Cubs as well, but they have a lot of money tied up already.)

    I’m sure I’m just trying to convince myself of it, but if we can get him without having to give up Rasmus (and, to a lesser extent, Chris Perez), Walt should do whatever it takes to do so.

  3. Michael Ermitage Says:

    Wow. Nice work – I’m impressed. You really thought this out. I have a few comments.

    First, I think that if the Twins are anywhere near contention next year, they won’t trade Santana. You’re right, he has voiced a displeasure with management, and it’s unlikely they’ll pony up the dollars to sign him, but I still think they go for it if they can. And, well, $$ go a long way in determining these things and maybe the Twins just do that. They will have a new stadium and a new GM, so it’s hard to predict.

    Second, even though the only way you get him is in a deadline deal, which should lower his price, espeically in a walk year, you’re still going to have to give up more than what you listed. Duncan is over achieving. He had like a .750 OPS in 900+ minor league at bats. I think it’d have to be Colby Rasmus and Reyes to just get the conversation started. There haven’t been a lot of big pitcher trades recently, so it’s hard to measure what it might take, but I’m thinking it would require more than what you’ve outlined.

    Third, I’m not even 100% convinced that’s exactly what you want to do. Yes, Santana is awesome, as dominant and reliable as they come. But, it’s the NL Central. Ted Lilly is on the verge of winning 15+ in this division. Marquis has 12. Why mortgage your future, and potential present, pieces, when you can get to the playoffs anyway? Heck, the Cardinals were all kinds of awful this year and still were in it in late August. I’d keep Wainwright and Reyes. What you need is a better coaching staff that can get more out of these young guys. Carp, Wainwright and Reyes is plenty. And then you can keep the above average production of Rasmus, and you can use the $$ needed to tie up Santana on solidifying your other holes.

  4. cardinal70 Says:

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I have said before, if Rasmus goes, it’s not worth it. Reyes, though, would not be a drawback at all. Let’s face it, he’s not going to make it here with current management. And I really don’t think TLR is going anywhere next year. Almost everyone that follows the team thinks that Reyes is going to be gone this offseason anyway. Why not use him for a real cornerstone?

    Lilly and Marquis may win games in the regular season, but no one thinks that the Cubs rotation is good enough to get them to and to win the World Series. A rotation of Santana, Carpenter, and Wainwright would make the Cards a favorite for not just next year, but the next couple of years.

    Not only that, but it’s the impact move that gets people off ownership’s backs. And they have to be getting tired of “DeWitt is cheap,” etc.

    I realize that Minnesota probably hangs on to him at least until the deadline, but with a new GM who may want to put his stamp on things, with a Cleveland and Detroit team that look potent and the loss of at least Hunter plus other factors, they may at least put Santana on the table this year. Like I said, I think you maximize your yield if you do that.

    As for Duncan, I know he’s outperforming his minor league numbers. But he’s done it for two years running. I was one that expected him to slink off into obscurity this year as pitchers figured him out. That didn’t happen–he was one of the hottest Cardinals the beginning of the season, and it wasn’t until the injury that he really went down. He’s got a chance to be a poor man’s Adam Dunn–and Minnesota typically wants all the poor men it can find.

    I don’t really expect it to happen, but I do think it’s got some backing and that it’d be a good deal on both sides.

  5. Wild and Woolly in Wrigley Says:

    […] the game, since that was the early days of the blog, but apparently back then I was just too busy coming up with crazy trade ideas and didn’t talk much about the game the next day.  It was before Heroes and Goats, after […]

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