My opinion going into this trade deadline is for the Twins simply to seek out the best deals. They made a pretty good deal for Jaime Garcia, but things have turned around a bit on the Twins, as they were swept in Los Angeles by the Dodgers, and now there is speculation that Minnesota is looking to sell some of their more valuable or short term commodities.
Over at Twinkie Town, I made a comment regarding Santana, and how he is eminently tradable, with his age among the primary reasons that the team could look to move on and see what they can get for him at the deadline. In response, a commentor speculated that 34 isn’t that old for a pitcher anymore, so I did what comes naturally to me. I looked up the stats for all qualified starters aged 33 and older, since 33 year olds will be 34 next year.
When looking at ERA, only 3 other pitchers aged 33 or older have a number under 4, including Zack Greinke, Jason Vargas and Jon Lester. Everyone else is over that mark. I should note that there are only 14 pitchers aged 33 or older that reached the minimum innings to qualify for league leaderboards, suggesting that perhaps older pitchers aren’t terribly durable. There is an obvious concern about older pitchers not being able to produce at the same level, or even at all should they endure an injury.
There is a concern regarding Santana in particular. I notice that, of those older pitchers, Santana also sports one of the highest FIPs at 4.94, putting him at the 5th highest total among qualified starters, 33 and older. Santana is at a precipice, of both age and luck, and both of those factors figure to start working against him very soon. It is up to the Twins whether or not they still want him to be on the payroll when that starts to happen.
The best time to move Santana is now. When the offseason rolls around, other GMs who are just as in tune with advanced stats as the Twins’ front office will see Santana for what he is. A 35 year old who has leaned heavily on good luck in his time in Minnesota. Right now, teams are acting rashly in an attempt to show that they are “going for it”. This is the time the Twins can get a decent return for Santana, otherwise, they might be stuck with him.
Yeah, it sounds strange to say, given how well he pitched in the beginning of the season. If Santana pitches to his skill level next year, Minnesota will wish they got rid of him when they could.