Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Best Deal?

Pending a workable contract extension, Santana is headed to the Mets. In return, the Twins will get CF Carlos Gomez, and pitching prospects Kevin Mulvey, Philip Humber, and Deolis Guerra. These are quality prospects, and at least three of them will probably wind up on the roster. But I don't find this deal too appealing, mostly because it doesn't seem to address the team's needs as well as some of the other scenarios would have.

If you look at the Twins' system, you'll find an ample number of quality pitching prospects: Blackburn, Duensing, Manship, Pino, Robertson, not to mention likely rotation members Baker, Bonser, Liriano, Perkins and Slowey, none of whom have yet started as many as 50 games in the majors. Adding 3 more pitchers to the mix turns a crowded minor league system into a bit of a logjam. As for Gomez, he might be ready to take over in CF, but he's not a whole lot further along than Pridie or Span. So here are 4 quality prospects, but not doing much to fill the holes in the system. I'd rather they'd acquired Mike Pelfrey and Martinez (plus maybe one of the others) and let them keep Gomez. It seems like Pelfrey is ready to join the rotation now, and Martinez could be a star down the road.

Either Red Sox deal would have served the Twins better. Ellsbury is definitely ready to be a factor in CF, Masterson is as good a pitcher as Mulvey or Humber, and Jed Lowrie would have been a candidate for SS after Adam Everett's 1-year deal is up. The even better offer was the one that included Jon Lester (another guy the Twins could have dropped right into the rotation) and Coco Crisp, who could have affordably filled the CF/leadoff spots, while providing more MLB experience than any of the other possiblities.

Even the Yankees' offer of Hughes, Cabrera and ? would have been preferable, as Hughes would have stepped right into the 2 (at least) slot in the rotation, and Cabrera would have been just slightly behind Crisp in experience, but still young and with a bit of upside.

It looks as though the Yanks and Red Sox were pulling back on their offers, so the Twins may have felt that it was the Mets or nothing. I heard a report today that Santana had turned down $100 million for 5 years from the Twins - if that's true, they may have felt it would be impossibly out of their comfort level to sign him.

But there was one other alternative to consider: let him pitch for the team this season, and take the 2 first round picks when he walks. That would have enabled the Twins to get 2 players of Guerra's potential (if not better), plus 20-25 wins from Santana this regular season. If only a couple of these Mets prospects turn out to be contributors for the Twins, even that scenario might look better in hindsight.

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