The Twins are openly shopping Johan Santana, the best pitcher in baseball. Doesn’t it stand to reason that the Giants should be able to get a similar return for Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum?
Here’s why. Santana is expensive. He’ll earn $13 million in 2008 then enter free agency. If his acquirer doesn’t want to extend his contract — which is likely to be more than $20–million-per-year for at least five or six years — they’ll end up trading a package of players for a one-year rental. Extend him with a new contract, and pay top dollar for a pitcher well into his 30s.
If you were a GM, wouldn’t you rather have Matt Cain? He isn’t as good as Santana right now, but he could be in 2009, 2010, and so on… at a much lower price and with less mileage on his arm. If Santana fetches the Twins a package of premium prospects, Brian Sabean’s hand will be greatly strengthened.
P.M. UPDATE: The Twins are close to trading a pitcher, but it’s not Santana. Instead they’re on the verge of trading young starter Matt Garza to the D-Rays for Delmon Young. Four other players could be involved.
What this means for the Giants: The Rays were one of the teams with whom the Giants seemed to match up well trade-wise. I spent my fair share of time wondering which outfielder the Giants could pry loose for Noah Lowry. Matt Cain-for-Carl Crawford has also been a common Internet meme. With the acquisition of Garza and departure of Young, Tampa Bay probably has no more need for what the Giants have.