By Joe Christensen
Imagine you are Mets GM Omar Minaya and you have a chance to get Johan Santana without giving up Jose Reyes, David Wright, John Maine or any other impact player from your 2007 roster.
The Twins have made it clear: They’ll do this for prospects. Yes, they want your best prospects, and you might feel like this will gut your system. And yes, after gutting your system, you’d have to make Santana the highest paid pitcher in history.
But you’re this close to the move that will help your ballclub turn the corner from that epic September collapse. You’re this close to making the splash of the offseason, upgrading a rotation that currently includes Maine, Pedro Martinez, Oliver Perez, Orlando Hernandez and Mike Pelfrey.
Your alternatives on the free agent market are Livan Hernandez and Kyle Lohse.
The Twins have asked for some combination of Fernando Martinez, Deolis Guerra, Carlos Gomez, Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey. You’d probably do it right now, if they weren’t asking for Martinez. You absolutely love that kid, even though the earliest he’d probably help a big league club is late 2009.
Prospects are just that – prospects. But the Twins have an uncanny knack at identifying the good ones on other rosters. They missed with David West in the 1988 Frank Viola trade but still got Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani. Here are a few of the other gems they’ve uncovered over the years, players who weren’t yet settled at Class AAA but eventually reached the big leagues with the Twins:
Alexi Casilla (from the Angels for J.C. Romero, 2005)
Francisco Liriano (from the Giants for A.J. Pierzynski, 2003)
Jason Bartlett (from the Padres for Brian Buchanan, 2002)
Lew Ford (from the Red Sox for Hector Carrasco, 2000)
Johan Santana (from the Marlins for Jared Camp, 1999)
Kyle Lohse (from the Cubs for Rick Aguilera, 1999)
Cristian Guzman (from the Yankees for Chuck Knoblauch, 1998)
Joe Mays (from the Mariners for Roberto Kelly, 1997)
David Ortiz (from the Mariners for Dave Hollins, 1996)
The Twins are good at this, and you know it. But how many chances do you get to acquire Johan Santana?