I’ve read some very interesting blogs and theories regarding the Twins potential trade of Johan Santana and some completely ludicrous ones as well. Only five teams–the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Dodgers and Angels--can realistically afford to sign Santana long-term…which is something Santana has made clear would be a necessity for him to agree to a trade.
As such, I’ve taken my stab at determining what it will take for one of the “Big Five” to wrangle arguably the best pitcher in the game. The teams are listed in the order of whom I feel has the best shot of acquiring his services…
In my mind the Sox probably have the best shot given the depth of their farm system and their desire to keep him from joining the Yankees. Any package with the Red Sox would begin with Clay Bucholz as he is deemed vastly superior to Jon Lester. However, if the Twins prefer Jacoby Ellsbury over Coco Crisp, they’d probably have to settle for Lester; I foresee those four balancing one another out…Ellsbury and Lester or Bucholz and Crisp. That would be the center-piece of the return, but the Twins would probably look to add another bat and/or bullpen help as well. In that regard, I think that a proven spot-start and reliever like Julian Tavarez could be in the mix straight-up middle inning men like Manny Delcarmen or Craig Hansen. As far as bats are concerned I’d expect to see Jed Lowrie or Brandon Moss thrown into the mix.
The Yankees are probably next in line because they offer a plethora of big-league ready starters to send back in return as well. The Yankees could give up less talent overall by sending Chien-Ming Wang and Melky Cabrera straight up. However, if the team is looking to hang onto Wang, they’ll probably have to send at least one of the young guns with Phillip Hughes being the front-runner with Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy falling in behind. This would still probably cost them Melky Cabrera and/or Robinson Cano and a solid minor league arm such as Humberto Sanchez.
The Dodgers would probably have to offer roughly the same package they’ve got on the table for Miguel Cabrera if they strike out on acquiring his services. That would include the likes of Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche or James Loney and either Johnathon Broxton or Chad Billingsley. However, one has to question whether or not the Dodgers are close enough to contend with the squad they have to afford giving up such a large portion of their top prospects.
The Mets are in an unfortunate place as they are in dire need of pitching and, as such, don’t have much they could afford to send back to the Twins. The best bet to snag Santana would probably cost the Mets Mike Pelfrey and Phil Humber…perhaps even both depending on what set of young outfielders the Mets are willing to give up. Any two of Fernando Martinez, Carlos Gomez or Lastings Milledge would net a solid return. Other names that could be in the mix for the Mets to make this work are Oliver Perez, Aaron Heilman and – if the rumors are true – potentially even Jose Reyes.
The Angels—currently the front-runners for Miguel Cabrera—are probably not in the mix as much as any of the aforementioned teams due to their depth of young arms and lack of offensive firepower. If the team does acquire Cabrera, one would assume they’ll no longer have the prospects necessary to net Santana. Although if they strike out (pun intended) in pursuit of Cabrera expect them to jump into the mix offering roughly the same set of players which includes as a base outfielder Reggie Willits and second baseman Howie Kendrick. After that the Twins would probably want to acquire another bat such as OF/DH Juan Rivera and/or 3B/SS Brandon Wood…although Wood may be untouchable given the recent trade of Orlando Cabrera. On the pitching front the Twins could command any of the following: Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders or class AA right-hander Nick Adenhart.