The Sports Daily > Firebrand AL
GM for a Day: Johan Santana traded to Red Sox?

The negotiations:
It’s been an interesting off-season so far. It hasn’t been hectic like past off-seasons, but it’s nigh early. Thanksgiving has passed, and a chance to go dine with a player’s family for Thanksgiving has as well (but don’t count out Christmas!). There is no plans to submit a $300 million posting bid to a Japanese team for a player.
No, we’re pretty good so far this year. Had a bit of trouble resigning Mike Lowell but just between you and me, our competitor was the Phillies. Yankees? Never in it. Old gasbag Hank had a wonderful time leaking Lowell news to the press, though.
We can’t be done, though. We have some areas of strength and areas of weaknesses. We can’t just sit and twiddle our thumbs and bring the same team back — we won’t win the World Series that way. We need to improve our team, and with a logjam in centerfield, we can break that logjam and improve our team. Would love a power arm out of the bullpen for Coco Crisp, that’s probably best-case scenario.
But Johan Santana is out there. I kicked the tires, as I should do, but I haven’t been overly enthusiastic about that side of the trade. The price the Twins were asking was too high, and I’m more than content to have the Yankees trade away young players to sign Santana to an exorbitant extension. I wouldn’t mind getting Santana, but the price is just too high right now and I don’t see enough of a pressing need in the rotation.
I’m working on Coco Crisp to the Twins. I negotiated with the general manager of the Twins for Crisp and I was trying to convince him that Matt Garza for Crisp would be a fantastic trade. Their GM declined, and I quickly learned Garza wasn’t available because he was the centerpiece of a Delmon Young trade.
Between Crisp and Young, it’s easy to see why Garza would be used to get the latter, so I dropped the subject. Maybe I could get Joe Nathan for Crisp? Probably would have to wait until after Johan was traded to explore that. Taylor Teagarden from the Rangers? Gerald Laird?
The Twins casually asked me who I would deal for Johan Santana. I knew in my mind exactly the deal that I would do to get Santana. It would require trading some top-flight prospects but the players involved would be more than worth it to get Santana.
Coco Crisp, Justin Masterson, Jed Lowrie and Jon Lester was my offer Wednesday night.
I wasn’t too pleased that that offer leaked out to the press the next morning, but I’ve long resigned myself to the fact that in trades of this magnitude, leaks will happen.
The Twins GM was intrigued, but inquired as to the availability of Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.
I told him in no uncertain terms that not only is Clay Buchholz available, I would not trade him straight up for Johan Santana. But Jacoby? We’d need an exclusive 72-hour negotiating window with Johan and an extension would have to be agreed to plus a prospect would have to head back to us for us to include Ellsbury.
We quickly settled on Eduardo Morlan heading back to the Red Sox. I like the guy — he’s young (22 in 2008) and some people have called him among the top five relief prospects in the game. He struck out 92 in 65.2 innings in advanced-A ball in 2007 and got a cup of coffee in AA (four innings, eight K’s, three walks, three hits).
That was pretty quick, I thought to myself.
Too quick. The GM called me back in a panic, saying that Juan Rincon’s inclusion in the Delmon Young trade had fallen through due to medical issues and the deal was too far along to back out of now, and the Twins were really relying on Young to beef up their offense and replace Torii Hunter (not only offensively, but along the lines of retaining African-American fan interest in the team). They had to give the Devil Rays Morlan.
That hurt, I was already dreaming of a 2010 where Papelbon, Delcarmen and Morlan combined to give up zero runs in over 200 innings with 400 strikeouts. That would have been nice. So, back to the drawing board.
The Deal:
Minnesota trades:
SP Johan Santana
—Player to be determined—
Boston trades:
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SP Jon Lester
SP Justin Masterson (minors)
SS Jed Lowrie (minors)
Jacoby Ellsbury is an electric player that girls swoon over, but doesn’t provide power. He has plus defense, but the jury is out on how he’ll perform at the plate. He could hit .300. He could hit .260. Jon Lester could be good, but will likely never be great (he’s probably another Andy Pettitte). Justin Masterson is in the minor leagues and who knows what he becomes. In my opinion, a very good set-up man. Lowrie to me is another Dustin Pedroia.
How do you not do this deal? While I would much rather give up Coco Crisp, we aren’t losing any prospects that will give us plus-power (something we need to start being aware of as our hitters age). Could we use some of these players in a trade for someone else with plus-power? Sure, absolutely… but the 2008 free class will boast plenty of power hitters, and the offense should be more than fine in 2008 while we wait for the free agency class… especially with Johan.
We were not able to agree on the second player in time, but we’ve agreed on the principals. I would love to get reliever Pat Neshek, would do reliever Jesse Crain and prospect Jeff Manship intrigues me as well.
People who complain about the lack of offense (and we’re not terrible in offense either and should see a bounceback season from both Manny Ramirez and J.D. Drew) don’t realize that Santana helps us neutralize this. He shuts down the other teams and will give up less runs than Lester would. Santana is widely regarded as the best pitcher in the world. For players who could very conceivably all be called question marks… don’t you do this deal?
I do this deal, and that’s why I bring Johan Santana onto the Red Sox. It gives me a rotation in 2008 of Josh Beckett, Johan Santana, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Curt Schilling and Tim Wakefield. In 2009, it gives me Josh Beckett, Johan Santana, Daisuke Matszuaka, Clay Buchholz and Curt Schilling/Tim Wakefield (both of whom plan to pitch in 2009)… and we still have Michael Bowden, free agency and trades to find our fifth starter should both Schilling and Wakefield retire.
Yes, we give up prospects that could be used to get a power bat. But how is this team not improved in 2008 and 2009… perhaps even 2010? Would those prospects that we give up offer us more of a fighting chance in the next three years than Johan will offer us?
I say no.
The deal may not be good for the competitive balance of baseball, but it’s good for the Red Sox. Don’t you have to take it?
Would you do this deal? Why or why not? Who is the person coming back along with Santana you would require?
If you wouldn’t do this deal, how else do you propose improving the team for 2008? Staying pat isn’t going to do it.