Johan, Finally

Dave · November 30, 2007 at 8:51 am · Filed Under Mariners 

So, I’ve been ignoring this topic for the last couple of weeks, but now that Geoff Baker has gone and written an article about it (by the way, welcome back Geoff), I guess we’ll address the Johan Santana situation.

It isn’t often that the best pitcher in baseball becomes available for trade. Johan is, without a doubt, in the middle of a Hall of Fame type career. Whether he has the durability to one day end up in Cooperstown is another story, but his peak is certainly induction worthy. He’s a truly great player. He isn’t Barry Zito – he actually is a good pitcher, worthy of a ridiculous amount of money and the acclaim being thrown his way.

So, if you’re the Mariners, you need starting pitching, and the best of the best is available – being interested is pretty obvious, yes?

Yes and no.

The Mariners absolutely should be interested in Johan Santana, and I’m glad Bavasi’s making calls and figuring out what it would take to get involved in the sweepstakes. It’d be irresponsible for the Mariners to not be at least somewhat involved in conversations about Johan Santana.

But should they be willing to compete with Boston, New York, and potentially others in a bidding war? I say no.

Johan Santana, for as great as he is, has to be projected as something like a 5 to 7 win addition to his new team (not accounting for the wins surrendered by giving up major league talent to acquire him). He’s an incredible pitcher, but the irrational exuberance surrounding the “Get Johan Santana, pair him with Felix Hernandez, win World Series!” type of analysis is just not realistic.

Look at the 2006 Twins – they had peak Johan, Francisco Liriano putting up a performance that we can’t even expect Felix to match, quality back-end starters in Brad Radke and Boof Bonser, the best bullpen in baseball, a legitimate MVP candidate in Joe Mauer, a non-legitimate MVP candidate who won anyway in Justin Morneau, solid role players in Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, and Jason Bartlett, and useful years out of spare parts like Nick Punto, Luis Castillo, and Mike Redmond.

That team had a +120 run differential, won 96 games (squeeking out a division title by one game), and got swept out of the playoffs in the first round. And that roster ran circles around what the 2008 Mariners with Johan Santana would look like.

Johan Santana is a great player. He is not a panacea for all the ills that the Mariners are suffering from. This team is just not one pitcher away from greatness, so their situation is inherently different from that of New York, Boston, the Angels, or other teams that legitimately could claim that Santana is their missing piece.

The cost to the Mariners future – certainly the package would require Adam Jones, Brandon Morrow, and likely two additional players of significant value – is simply too high, considering their current situation. The cost benefit analysis just doesn’t work for the Mariners right now.

It’d be great if it did. Perhaps if the Mariners hadn’t screwed the pooch last winter, building an inflexible roster with three DHs, they’d be in a situation where giving up some future value to make a run at winning it all would make some sense. But for this organization, for this team, it just doesn’t. Not right now.


149 Responses to “Johan, Finally”

  1. Mat on November 30th, 2007 3:16 pm

    This may be the case where trading your superstar is exactly the right thing to do because your trade partner will overpay — particularly when you have the Red Sox and Yankees bidding against each other.

    It gets pretty complicated when you start thinking about all of the draft pick compensation angles. If the Twins don’t trade Santana, they’ll probably get a pick in the 16-30 range and a pick in the 31-45 range. If Santana is not traded, then a big market team (at least the Yanks or Red Sox) would have to give up their first round pick in 2009 to sign him. So the options for the big market teams are:

    – Trade 3-4 prospects, get Santana, pay him $$$$, keep 2009 first-round pick.

    – Don’t trade prospects, lose Santana to competitor, spend $$$$ elsewhere, keep 2009 first-round pick.

    – Don’t trade prospects, sign Santana as a free agent, pay him $$$$ (maybe more than if you traded for him), lose 2009 first-round pick.

    From where I sit, for the Twins to really come out ahead in a trade, they need to get at least two first-round talents out of the deal. For the big-market team to come out ahead, they need to value Santana higher than the net loss of 1-2 top prospects and some payroll flexibility. It seems feasible to me that Boston or New York could make a trade that would benefit themselves and the Twins without significantly overpaying, but feasible and likely are two different things, I guess.

  2. Evan on November 30th, 2007 3:48 pm

    Congratulations! You have just agreed to be the 2001-2003 Texas Rangers, a team proudly sporting the best and most expensive player in baseball surrounded by scrubs, left-overs, and whatever else they can afford, mired at the bottom of the AL West.

    And that’s why selling the farm to get Santana is bad.

    Acquiring Santana for huge money is a good idea (I’d offer him 6/180 next off-season). The bad part is filling the rest of your team with scrubs.

    The Rangers were even worse than that, because they only used expensive scrubs, so they also lacked the capacity to improve themselves.

  3. gwangung on November 30th, 2007 3:53 pm

    And that’s why selling the farm to get Santana is bad.

    Acquiring Santana for huge money is a good idea (I’d offer him 6/180 next off-season). The bad part is filling the rest of your team with scrubs.

    Well, I’d say bad players instead of scrubs….but I follow your point, particularly the point of expensive ones….

  4. Sklyansky on November 30th, 2007 4:08 pm

    Long time lurker chiming in. If the Mariner’s were a competently run organization, and could realistically replace the pieces they’d trade away for Santana, I’d be all for it. But Bavasi has no track record of running anything competently, so I’d rather gamble on the idea that either Jones, Clement or Morrow actually pan out, and becomes a viable star.

    And I think Lopez will have a rebound year, as the death of his brother had to have some effect on his play, and his defense has to be worth something (regardless of whether his bat comes alive).

    In reading what other teams are offering for Santana, I’d be surprised if the Jones/Clement/Lopez/Marrow package would even be enough in the first place.

    Additionally, with Santana, the M’s would probably experience just enough success to repeat last year’s “success”, and Bavasi and McClaren would get yet another stay of exection, and be allowed another year to trot out the same philosophy. And who really wants that?

  5. C. Cheetah on November 30th, 2007 4:51 pm

    Ok, I am really confused how several of you posting here view A. Jones now and in the future.
    From what I have read here and looked up other places, Jones is compared to Eric Byrnes to Mag Ordonez, but probably somewhere in between…like a JOSE GUILLEN..those numbers being…
    Player / AVG / OBP / SLG / HRs / BBs / Ks
    Byrnes / 267 / 329 / 451 / 15+ / 35 / 80
    Guillen/ 274 / 325 / 447 / 20+ / 30 / 100
    Ordonez/ 312 / 370 / 552 / 30+ / 60 / 70

    While there are not ANY of these types of guys in the M’s farm system readily available other than Jones…there are several who are available now, like Jenkins, Guillen, etc…, so why again are we going to miss him??
    I know we would have him cheap for several years, but with the money that is coming off the books next year, we should be able to afford Jenkins and Santana, IMHO.

  6. arbeck on November 30th, 2007 5:17 pm

    Don’t forget defense. Jones plays better defense than any of those guys.

  7. Evan on November 30th, 2007 5:18 pm

    Cheetah – Find me a guy like that who’s both cheap and can play CF competently.

    And Jones is significantly cheaper than someone like Guillen, who will probably earn $8 million/season (compared to Jones at $500K).

  8. eponymous coward on November 30th, 2007 5:20 pm

    Ok, I am really confused how several of you posting here view A. Jones now and in the future.
    From what I have read here and looked up other places, Jones is compared to Eric Byrnes to Mag Ordonez, but probably somewhere in between…like a JOSE GUILLEN..those numbers being

    Actually, for next year ALONE, yeah, comparing Jones to Guillen is right. For ceiling, he probably grades out between Mike Cameron (marginal All-Star, damn good player) and Eric Davis (perennial All-Star, a potential HOFer if healthy for entire career).

  9. HamNasty on November 30th, 2007 5:22 pm

    98- Also players who are less talented then others but find a starting job. Including anyone who has 13 years in the league and busted as a starter and ends up in a bullpen somewhere.

  10. James T on November 30th, 2007 5:40 pm

    #88. Yup. Trading prospects for Pedro Martinez worked out pretty well. And remember, the Indians could have added Pedro to their rotation before the 1998 season but John Hart wouldn’t part with . . . the immortal Jaret Wright, so Montreal took Boston’s offer.

    I’m not sure how trading the farm for Johan would leave the M’s as the 2001-3 Rangers. They’d still have Felix Hernandez, J.J. Putz, Ichiro Suzuki, Adrian Beltre etc.

    Caution in an of itself isn’t smart. You can convince yourself to do nothing and miss great opportunities.

    That said, as a Red Sox fan, I’m very ambivalent about this. I’d probably be almost as happy with Santana going to, say, the Dodgers as his being traded to the Sox. Only his going to the yankees would bother me.

    That said, there’s different value to those 5-7 wins when starting with different bases of wins. 5-7 wins more for a 70 win team don’t mean much. 5-7 wins more for an 87 win team? That could be worth a ton of money. There’s the immediate value of some home playoff games. And there’s value in energizing the fan base, more tickets sold and better tv ratings both that year and the start of the next. All wins are not created equal.

  11. James T on November 30th, 2007 5:42 pm

    I should have added to my statement of unhappiness if the yankees acquire him, “unless they trade Hughes, Cano and a few prospects, or something monumental like that for him.”

  12. jlc on November 30th, 2007 5:46 pm

    109-And don’t forget those that play through adversity, you know like being hurt when they should take a couple of weeks off.

  13. C. Cheetah on November 30th, 2007 5:48 pm

    Well, Ichiro is playing CF, but I get your point on defense nonetheless. I agree that there isn’t anyone readily available who can play defense at the money that Jones will…However, my point is about the money. If I recall right, the M’s have atleast $10 mil to $17 mil to spend this offseason, and again the M’s will have alot more money to spend next year AND since we all hope the following years will include Aumonte, Tillman, Bulter, Ramirez, young bullpen, Carlos T., Tui and/or Mangini, and etc…the M’s should have a lot of money to spend on Felix and Santana. The M’s could use this money for Jenkins or whoever…
    Regardless, since most here do not believe that the M’s will contend in 2008, why not have the holes in the OF or 2nd than in the Starting rotation.

  14. Mean Dean on November 30th, 2007 6:19 pm

    One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet is that the Twins have amazingly little use for Clement. They have Joe Mauer at C and Justin Morneau at 1B! Both young, lefty hitters, and great overall players (ok, Morneau may not quite be “great”, but he’s plenty good.) Clement would be DH-only for them, and most teams don’t like DH-only players because it takes away flexibility, plus the Twins have Jason Kubel — yes, another young, quality lefty hitter — there anyway.

    If the Twins want Jones plus substantially more, and they don’t particularly want Clement — and I think those are both very likely scenarios — then I don’t know who the M’s could give up as the #2 guy in the trade who could make it at all plausible.

  15. George Kaplan on November 30th, 2007 8:45 pm

    I read that the Twins last offer to Santana was $80 over 4 years. This surprised me, since I thought the Twins wouldn’t be comparable on a per-year basis to what Santana was seeking, and apparently they were spot-on. However, they drew the line at 4 years, while Santana is seeking 7 (like Zito).

    That gets me to wondering: What does the Twins coaching staff know? Since $20M in years 5-7 is money well spent if Santana is close to his 2006 (or even 2007) self, do the Twins have doubts about his long-term durability? Keep in mind he has something like 900 IP on his odometer. If the pitching staff is seeing some cracks in the foundation, then they might have advised the front office that 4 years is maximum for that kind of money. Otherwise, what is to stop the Twins from going 7 years or more?

    This would make me wonder if I was a GM sniffing about a possible deal.

  16. scraps on November 30th, 2007 9:46 pm

    then I don’t know who the M’s could give up as the #2 guy in the trade who could make it at all plausible.

    Triunfel. Who has no value next year for the Mariners, and is therefore infinitely replaceable.

  17. milendriel on November 30th, 2007 10:35 pm

    116- 🙁

  18. TAYTAY20 on November 30th, 2007 11:22 pm

    Santana for Jones, Morrow, Rob Johnson, and Reed sounds good to me.

    Sorry to get off track, but [deleted, off track]

  19. MnMsFan on December 1st, 2007 12:03 am

    Update.. This is all worthless talk.. The Yankee’s include Phil Hughes in their package.. The twins would be dumb not to take that deal. Its a way better package than the m’s could offer? Its too bad. He would dominate in Safe Co Field..

  20. Sidi on December 1st, 2007 2:00 am

    That gets me to wondering: What does the Twins coaching staff know? Since $20M in years 5-7 is money well spent if Santana is close to his 2006 (or even 2007) self, do the Twins have doubts about his long-term durability?

    Perhaps they just realize that he’s unlikely to improve, every single year puts up a risk his body will explode (or he’ll fall apart), and they’re a small enough payroll that $20 million, without him actually playing, is a death sentence to a season.

    Even the Mariners would be seriously wounded eating a $20M salary, for no performance in a year…if he got hurt for the Twins it would be all over. Seven years is an insanely long time for a position player, and flat out stupid for a pitcher. Unless baseball switches to a non-guaranteed contract scheme, like other sports, seven years is not worth it for a pitcher contract (especially for an elite pitcher).

  21. smb on December 1st, 2007 9:43 am


    ESPN is reporting the Yanks are prepared to add Hughes to a proposed deal.

  22. shemberry on December 1st, 2007 11:37 am

    119- ESPN is reporting the Yanks will be serving Ham sandwiches for lunch at Spring Trainin.

  23. msb on December 1st, 2007 12:01 pm

    a non-ESPN columnist blogs about why the D-banks might have the edge over Seattle for Kuroda

  24. smb on December 1st, 2007 12:20 pm


    Best comment from a d’backs fan below that blog entry:

    “We need him here for two reasons. I want to see Nintendo ads in Japanese behind home plate and on the outfield walls, and the Japanese have the world’s best gameshows.”

    Spoken like an average M’s fan!

  25. manifestus on December 1st, 2007 1:49 pm

    The question then becomes, what sort of pitching might it be possible for the M’s to add — and what would be the cost?

    If the Giants really are fielding offers for Lincecum, I’d be all over that one. Same goes for Bedard. What would it take?

    I think the most critical pitching issue isn’t even getting significantly spectacular pitching … it’s making sure that this quote by Bavasi is erased from all minds:
    “We also need for [Horacio] Ramirez to turn himself around. We don’t think he is a lost cause by any means, and this is just the kind of pitcher that can be affected by a guy like [new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre].”

  26. thefin190 on December 1st, 2007 8:17 pm

    “We also need for [Horacio] Ramirez to turn himself around. We don’t think he is a lost cause by any means, and this is just the kind of pitcher that can be affected by a guy like [new pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre].”

    I am thinking the thing is that Bavasi is still trying to make something out of the trade he made last winter when he should’ve just given up long ago.

  27. scottg02 on December 1st, 2007 8:42 pm

    FWIW on’s current Santana article it mentions that the M’s and Dodgers are also talking to the Twins about Santana.

  28. Joof on December 2nd, 2007 12:31 am

    While we’re on the topic of gutting a team for big name players, ESPNs reporting that in the Angels quest for Miguel Cabrera, it seems that they are going to give up Kendrick, in addition to some other players. However, with the trade of Orlando Cabrera, would they have any legitimate middle infielders if they gave up Kendrick as well? I don’t know much about the Angels farm system, but it seems this would not bode well, even with Miguel Cabrera’s bat.

  29. msb on December 2nd, 2007 9:23 am

    last report, the Twins want the Yankees to send Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera & either pitcher Alan Horne or outfielder Austin Jackson or Ian Kennedy might be nice, and the Red Sox package should improve from Jon Lester, Coco Crisp & maybe Jed Lowrie and Michael Bowden to instead adding Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury.

    oh, and “Moreno said last week that he thought his team had twice completed a deal for Cabrera, who won’t become a free agent until after the 2009 season, only to have the Marlins ask the Angels to sweeten the package.”

  30. msb on December 2nd, 2007 1:03 pm

    Mariners declined to offer arbitration to OF Jose Guillen, RHP Chris Reitsma, LHP Arthur Rhodes and RHP Jeff Weaver.

  31. TAYTAY20 on December 2nd, 2007 1:16 pm

    I wonder if Santana would come here since he and Felix and buddies, or so i’ve heard.

    I suppose it would simply be better for the team financially to not trade for Santana and attempt to turn around Ramirez’ career in Seattle instead. If he wins 20 games, I will forgive Bavasi.

  32. tgf on December 2nd, 2007 2:23 pm

    Mariners declined to offer arbitration to OF Jose Guillen, RHP Chris Reitsma, LHP Arthur Rhodes and RHP Jeff Weaver.

    Right, because why would they want a supplemental 1st round pick anyway? It’s not like any players ever picked there ever pan out or anything. Mostly marginal guys like that David Wright character, for one.

  33. bakomariner on December 2nd, 2007 2:30 pm

    seattle really should have offered to guillen…one, i want him on the team next year with jones, ichi, and guillen in the outfield, two, worst case scenario, we get a pick if he signed elsewhere…another bad move by bavasi…raul is gonna kill us in left this year…

  34. Mr. Egaas on December 2nd, 2007 4:34 pm

    I really feel Bavasi dropped the ball not offering arbitration on Guillen. He should get enough offers elsewhere that he wouldn’t accept, and if he did, I don’t believe it would have cost the team a whole lot.

    At the very least, they would have Guillen around to play right, dump Sexson, and move Ibanez to first. Ridiculous.

  35. terry on December 2nd, 2007 4:35 pm

    good riddance to guillen….

  36. DC_Mariner on December 2nd, 2007 6:43 pm

    why good riddance to Guillen??? He was one of our best hitters last year!

  37. Bearman on December 2nd, 2007 7:18 pm

    I admit the M’s should have at least offered Guillen arbitration that way when he signed elsewhere for the money he wants the M’s get that supplemental 1st rounder.

    However I can also see the reason for NOT offering him arbitration.
    What if Guillen acceptec arbitration and he forced the case?
    What amount of money based on his performance from ’07 would he have been awarded for 1 yr contract?

    #133: I agree with the dumping of Sexson as well as Vidro and the moving of Ibanez to 1stB/DH duties with Morse his platoon partner at 1stB.
    However I disagree with the retaining of Guillen because of the money to keep him can be better spend aquiring SP help,strenghtening the bench,and signing FA RP Jeremy Affeldt for the pen should a RP arm or two have to go to get SP help via trade.

    Futhermore to be quite frank I love to see the following trade done:
    The M’s sent Sexson/Lopez and a mid level RP to the Giants for Lowry and 1stB prospect Ishigawa (Seattle born)and Durham.
    The including of Durham in the deal allows the Giants to accept Sexson’s salary and saves the M’
    s 7 mil cause Durham is only owed 7 mil for ’08.
    Gives the M’s a solid 2ndB vet to platoon with Chen and also gives the M’s an upgrade with a LHP who’s younger and can be turnaround by Stottlemyre more readyly.

  38. scott19 on December 2nd, 2007 7:59 pm

    Agreed — we should have at least gotten a pick for Guillen.

  39. terry on December 2nd, 2007 8:11 pm

    why good riddance to Guillen???

    He had a VORP=28. UZR rated his defense at -21. He had a $9M club option and probably would’ve gotten a big raise if he accepted an arbitration offer. You do the math.

  40. Walrus on December 2nd, 2007 9:25 pm

    The M’s NEED another corner OF…and Guillen would be a decent get for one year, even if he was paid $10 mil. The reasons he is worth it are:
    1. better than Raul for OF defense
    2. a proven right handed hitter for Safeco field
    3. Since the M’s FO and or Bavasi believe in vocal team leaders, and having a player with “attitude”…now Bavasi has to go get another one, which will probably be more like Everett
    4. should force Bavasi to trade Sexson (or remote chance of Vidro or Ibanez), because even the M’s FO has to realize the M’s have too many 1B / DH types.
    5. Guillen would bring a decent player back in a trade at the AS Break, when the M’s are totally out of the race this year.

  41. msb on December 2nd, 2007 9:30 pm

    take it with the usual grain of salt:

    “Sources told’s Ken Rosenthal that Johan Santana has informed the Twins he will not waive his no-trade protection to allow an in-season trade.”

  42. thefin190 on December 2nd, 2007 9:37 pm

    Guillen’s whole HGH ordeal should’ve lessened his value atleast a little right? I don’t know if I wanted him back, but if it was either him or seeing Raul in left field for another year, I would take Guillen. We’ll just see what Bavasi does at the winter meetings.

    Walrus, just because the Mariners aren’t a WS caliber team doesn’t mean that we should write them off now. We will just have to wait to see what Bavasi does this offseason before we make that prediction.

  43. fwbrodie on December 2nd, 2007 9:53 pm

    Johan Santana
    Felix Hernandez
    Jarrod Washburn
    Miguel Batista
    Hiroki Kuroda

    CF Ichiro
    2B Chi-Chen
    3B Beltre
    LF Ibanez
    1B Sexson
    RF Fukudome
    C Johjima
    DH Clement
    SS Betancourt

    If only the Mariners could spend a little bit more cash.

  44. msb on December 2nd, 2007 9:57 pm

    it’s nothing to do with cash.

  45. thefin190 on December 3rd, 2007 12:16 am

    Not that impressed with that lineup. Especially with Sexson and Ibanez still in left field. Fukudome isn’t coming to the U.S. and that rotation is a #1, a #1.5, and bunch of 4s (Batista is possibly a three). But again, I think the Twins seem to be more interested in the Yankees or Red Sox packages for Santana rather than the Mariners.

    At the same time, the media always seems to love to focus on the Red Sox and Yankees, and not so much on the other teams. I guess we don’t know what actually is happening.

  46. Walrus on December 3rd, 2007 12:39 am

    Fin190…I wish I had your optimism, but Bavasi scares me. If Kuroda does not take the M’s offer, I’ll bet this Guillen issue will be small, compared to the hoopla that will come.
    However, I do firmly believe, even if Bavasi gets both Kuroda and Fukodome, trades for Santana, and signs Colon…the best that the M’s can hope for is the wildcard. There is no way the M’s can catch the Angels this next year, especially when they get Cabrera or Tejada and one or two more.

  47. joser on December 3rd, 2007 2:23 am

    Seattle simply doesn’t have the trade pieces NY and Boston can offer (if they choose to make them available). But it’s not just media focus, and it’s not just what the Twins are interested in. It’s also what Santana wants. He has a full no-trade clause. If he tells them he’s only interested in AL East teams, or he’s only interested in teams that won their division or the WC in the last two years, or he’s only interested in teams that at least have a shot at the postseason, or he’s interested in any team except that basketcase in the upper left corner of the country, that sets the parameters. The Twins are only going to talk to teams Santana is interested in. You can rosterbate all you want, but that doesn’t change the facts: Santana is in the driver’s seat on this.
    And there’s no sign he’s interested in stopping here.

  48. eponymous coward on December 3rd, 2007 3:34 am


    Why would I want to imagine that lineup? You have a horrible defensive 1B and LF, and Chen and Clement have by no means proven they are ready for MLB based on their minor league performances (Chen is OLDER than Lopez, which should tell you why it’s a bit early to label Lopez a bust). Santana and Kuroda improve things, sure, but you arguably have 4 positions where you are below average (2B, 1B, DH and LF), a couple of positions at around league average (SS and RF), one a bit above (C), and two superior ones (CF and 3B).

    That just doesn’t scream “division winner” to me.

  49. hub on December 3rd, 2007 5:09 am

    Time to awake from the dream.

    The Providence Journal reports:
    “Santana, who has a full-no trade clause and intends to wield it to land a six-year contract extension from any team striking a deal for him, told the Twins that he would veto a trade to any team except the Yankees or Red Sox. He also warned them that he would not accept a deal in-season, forcing the Twins to move him this week or lose him to free agency after the 2008 season, when his current contract expires.”

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