Thursday, January 31, 2008
It is hard for me to believe that the MFY and Sox actually offered Bill Smith the reported booty for Johan Santana. As we discussed with Vince Gennaro, trading any package of prospects that included Phil Hughes or Jon Lester would be an economic blunder. Specifically for the Sox, they have to develop a significant number of regular players so they can continue to own the free agent market when the NYC clubs are not involved. The Sox have essentially maxed out every major baseball related revenue source. Young productive talent allows the Sox to continue shopping for the last piece to the championship puzzle each winter. For the MFY, it was probably a bit more discussion than on Yawkey Way, and if the reports are true that was the case. Trading for Santana only made sense for the Mets and of course that's what happened. Too bad most think Smith didn't get enough.
Smith was hand cuffed by Johan Santana’s right to veto any deal and unwillingness to take a below market deal (not that I am blaming him). Hence reducing the number of potential partners to the financial powerhouses and dramatically dropping the price for best pitcher in baseball. As I mentioned early on, the Twins only needed to get a package that was more valuable than two of the top 35 draft picks for this to be a win. Since they were not going to contend this season, nor should they push it (see Astros offseason) with a new park on the way. Given the circumstances, Santana would not bring in enough additional revenue to justify holding on to him for only 2008.
Even though the club may see a reduction in 2008 revenue by trading Santana, it would likely not be more than Santana’s 2008 salary, and certainly not when the prospects/assets acquired were factored into the equation. Smith is preparing their organization to contend in the year before (2009) and in first few years of residing in the new ballpark, when they will get the most bang for their buck. He locked up Justin Morneau and Mike Cuddyer, although not having a presser right after the Santana deal is a PR f&ck up. Smith can now look to market Joe Nathan likely for a deal in July when clubs are looking for a reliever to push them over the top. (He should have tried to deal Nathan, maybe he did, to the Brewers for Matt LaPorta, who has no future in the town of cheap beer with Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.) Again, the Twins only need to get a package better than two top 35 draft picks.
Smith did not satisfy the glaring need for infield prospects in his organization, but he did acquire valuable assets – three starting pitching prospects – that could be turned into gold next winter. He is also hedging his bets on the position with the most risk. The odds are good now that Twins will be able to throw out an inexpensive and productive starting five over the next few years. The same can be said with the acquistion of Gomez. Smith added organizational depth in centerfield. If all progress this season, he has a few more chips to push around for the 2009 season. It should be about 2009 and beyond for the Twins.