a��Over the next 30 days, I’ll look at 30 playersa��one from each teama��that I believe should be traded, but more along the lines of aA�a�?what ifa�? scenario. Some will seem obvious, just as others will seem nonsensical. Some may also seem desperate, but it’s important to understand that this list is entirely subjective and made up solely of notable names. A player can be deemed movable for any of the following reasons: production (or lack thereof), current and future team outlook, age, potential return value, salary, or even injury history.
After winning 70 games just once from 2011-2014, I can’t imagine many fans were all that optimistic ahead of 2015. But when it was said and done, I don’t think many could complain about the end product: 83-79a��while mediocre on the surfacea��was good enough for second place in a down year for the AL Central, and the Twins finished just three games out of the wild card race.
Now the question is: did they overplay for the majority of 2015, or do they have the talenta��assuming a couple of acquisitions are madea��to make a genuine playoff push? If they’re leaning towards the latter, they’ll need to help out their own starting rotation.
Which brings three names to mind you’d think about moving: Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, and Ricky Nolasco. It’s an easy a�?not a chancea�? for Hughes; Santana is a bit complicated; and in a perfect world, Nolasco would be the prime choice. But choosing Nolasco wouldn’t make this hypothetical much fun, now would it?
The 32-year-old signed a four-year deal in 2014 worth $49 million, was a mess in ’14, and an ankle injury cut his 2015 campaign short. If he possesses any value at all, it’s incredibly minimal.
So we’ll imagine Santana, who signed a four-year deal worth $55 million through 2018 last season, as the odd man out. What makes him movable? Well, if he pitches going forward like he did in either 2008 or 2014, his price tag would be just fine. However, it’s more than just his performance on the field, but we’ll get to that.
Santana, 32, has carved out an 11-year career as a member of the Angels, Royals, Braves, and Twinsa��those final three for a year apiece consecutively. Health has rarely been an issue; he’s started 30+ games seven times, 23 or more in three, and then there was last season.
His overall numbers, with the exception of the aforementioned seasons above, have always flattered to deceive. A career ERA/FIP of 4.16/4.26 isn’t ideal for how much the Twins are paying him, and regardless of which metric you choose to measure him by, Santana just hasn’t ever been all that good consistently.
He’s had his moments, of course: he finished sixth in the Cy Young vote in 2008, and out-pitched his 3.95 from a year ago with a 3.39 FIP. The home run issue that plagued him in 2012 (39) subsided in ’14 (16), but in 88 less innings in 2015, Santana had already given up 12 long balls.
Signed as the No. 2 startera��and the richest deal in club historya��behind Hughes before the ’15 campaign began, Santana was hit with an 80-game suspension, testing positive for the PED Stanozolol and missing the first 80 games of the regular season. Had Minnesota reached the postseason (or even played in a regular season tiebreaker), he would have been banned, per MLB’s rule.
So now he’s back and ready to get a full season under his belt. But are you ready, Twins fans? You’d hate to imagine a scenario in which Nolasco and Santana wildly under-perform for the remainder of their contracts, but stranger things have happened.
It’s not as though Minnesota’s pitching staff rocked the baseball world last season, but the offense in particular could use a significant amount of help. If an interested club had to choose between Nolasco and Santana, given the former’s recent injury troubles and the latter’s success from as recently as 2014, I’d imagine the choice would be simple.
Of course, worrying about potential PED usage would be in the back of the mind, which adds that other wrinkle in this scenario.
But if I’m Minnesota, I listen for anything interesting that presents itself on the Santana front. Then it all comes back to the question: do you firmly believe a playoff push is in the cards?
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference and Fangraphs