Wednesday, August 14, 2013

20 Minnesota Twins Trades: The Johan Santana Grift

Ok, I'm going to need a second.  It's just... it's hard to talk about this one.  I mean... it's Johan.  He was my favorite... PLAYER! BLAHAWAAWA!   I'm sorry.  I'm sorry!  I can't do it!  I'M JUST SO UPSET.  I MEAN, HE'S JOHAN SANTANA, WHY DID THE TWINS HAVE TO TRADE HIM AWAY?!?  ...



The Trade:  BREAKDOWN!

The Minnesota Twins traded Johan Santana to the New York Mets for Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. 

Johan Santana is the greatest.  Santana was fantastic for the Mets from 2008-2010.  He was robbed of the Cy Young Award in 2008, much like he was robbed in 2005.  He should really have four Cy Youngs.  Four!  There were some signs of decline in 2010 and then he missed all of 2011 with an injury.  He returned last season but succumbed to another injury in 2013 and may need to retire at the age of 33.  That makes me a sad panda.

Carlos Gomez seemed like the kind of guy who might round the bases the wrong way, if you just let him do his thing.  He was an exciting player though.  He flashed power and speed and was always an excellent defender.  Humber and Mulvey were nothing special and have done nothing special.  Nope, neither guy has done anything special ever.  Especially Humber.  Nothing special.  Guerra was viewed as the crown jewel of the trade, but has yet to pitch an MLB inning and it is looking more and more like he never will. 

So, that's all a bummer.

How did I feel at the time?

Awful.  We all knew this trade was coming.  In fact, it had been a long time coming.  Santana was upset as far back as the second Luis Castillo trade, which was as hard to swallow as the second Bald Bull was to knock down.  The rumors had been floating around for such a long time and so many different players were involved that it almost seemed like it would never actually happen.  Of course, with Santana's contract running out, time was running out on getting value for one of the best pitchers in Twins' history.  I felt awful, but I moved on.  But man, sanding that Santana tattoo off of me hurt like crazy.

Why make the trade?

We all remember this trade and the hoopla vividly, so I'm not going to bombard you with quotes.  I did find some good stuff from this article that was written just prior to the trade actually occurring:

"If Santana agrees to a deal -- and it is thought he will seek a six-year, $150 million contract -- then he also would have to pass a physical.  In return for Santana, the Twins would receive center fielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra -- a package which some talent evaluators believe could be the fourth-best offer that Minnesota received during this process."

In the Wild Card era, the fourth-best team usually makes the playoffs.  So there.  In reality, the Twins delayed this process so much that some of their Johan suitors dropped out.  Which is exactly what you want in a bidding war. 

Mets third baseman David Wright was ecstatic about Santana possibly joining the team  "If it's true, obviously, you're getting arguably the best pitcher in the game," Wright said, according to AP.

Is it possible that Bill Smith made this trade entirely with the focus on making David Wright happy?  If so, that certainly changes my perception on how successful this trade was. 

David Wright aside, perhaps the other packages were filled with garbage:

In early December, the Yankees had offered a package built around pitcher Phil Hughes and center fielder Melky Cabrera, and the Red Sox talked about two separate deals, one built around left-hander Jon Lester and the other around center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, with pitcher Justin Masterson and infielder Jed Lowrie prominently involved.

Well, I've never heard of any of those players, so clearly this article is stupid.  If we're going to be serious, the Twins should have taken the Lester package.  He's been up and down, but he is also the closest to Santana that the Twins could have received in return.  Hindsight is nice.  So is opportunity:

With Santana gone, there is a big opening in the Twins' rotation. Francisco Liriano is on track to return after missing last season following elbow surgery, but Carlos Silva signed with Seattle as a free agent, leaving youngsters Scott Baker, Boof Bonser and Kevin Slowey as the starters with the most experience.

What we didn't know when this article was written is that the Twins were planning to sign Livan Hernandez to join those studs in the rotation.  Of course, that signing directly lead to the Great Chocolate Bunny shortage of 2008, so it wasn't a total win. 

We've read about how this trade will affect the Twins' rotation, but how will it affect Joe Mauer?

"Joe Mauer's job, and my job, just got a lot tougher," backup catcher Mike Redmond said. "We're going to have to work a lot harder to help these guys out the best we can."

Upon completing this sentence, Redmond took his pants off, put his cup on his head like a tiny beret and went and took batting practice.  Just like he did every day. 


Disgruntled superstar trades kind of suck.  First, there is a limited market for such a devastating and therefore, expensive player.  Second, the other team knows that the trading team is desperate to move the unhappy player and can make low-ball offers.  Finally, unhappy players are often unhappy for legitimate reasons.  In this case, Santana was upset that the Twins were cheap and only thought of the future.  In some ways, he was right, although the Twins did offer him $20 million per season on a couple occasions. 

Therefore, the player packages were going to be prospect heavy and were going to come from just a few teams.  The Yankees had some fun prospects, but apparently none that fully intrigued the Twins.  The Red Sox had two elite prospects, but rightfully did not want to part with both.  The Dodgers were offering Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, but the Twins passed.  That's not true, but I definitely remember it that way and lie to people about it to this day.  In the end, the Mets offered three starting pitching prospects, one with very high upside, and an outfielder who could "go get it."  The package was reasonable, but the players didn't pan out at all.  Very sad. 

The impact of the trade was felt immediately in 2008 as the Twins lost to the White Sox in Game 163, thus missing the playoffs by one game.  You will never convince me that having Santana on that 2008 team wouldn't have added at least one win to the Twins' total.  Never!

Who won the WAR?

Santana with the Mets:  15.2 WAR
Gomez with the Twins:  2.6 WAR
Mulvey with the Twins: 0.0 WAR
Humber with the Twins:  -0.1 WAR

WAR won by the Mets!

One Analogy Summary

Say you have a hundred dollars and you want to cut down to smaller bills.  One friend is going to give you two fifties.  One friend is offering five twenties.  Another friend is offering a fifty, a twenty and three tens.  One friend is offering you a twenty, a used postage stamp, Kevin Mulvey and some sidewalk chalk.  Which deal do you take?

And yes, I am aware that Philip Humber pitched a perfect game.  I like jokes.


  1. I'm just frustrated all over again, but thanks for the laugh!

  2. You're welcome! I hate to bring up bad memories though.