Ian O’Connor looks back at the Yankees call to pass on Johan Santana. A snip -
No matter how you slice it, the day the Mets traded for [Johan] Santana was the day the Yankees decided not to trade for Santana and to wait for [CC] Sabathia instead.
Brian Cashman could’ve outbid Omar Minaya if he’d wanted to. He could’ve delivered Minnesota a package of Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, Ian Kennedy and Jeff Marquez and blown away the Mets’ winning offer of Philip Humber, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra.
In fact, if George Steinbrenner were still George Steinbrenner in the wintry wake of 2007, Cashman would’ve been ordered to do just that, and to sign off on a six-year, $137.5 million contract to boot.
Only The Boss wasn’t The Boss anymore when Cashman told the Twins to take their trade and stuff it. The general manager had a healthy respect for Santana’s talent and temperament; Cashman just didn’t want to surrender a small circle of good young players plus pay a zillion bucks on the back end.
He gambled. He suffered through the Yankees’ first playoff-free season in forever, prayed Sabathia would take to his free-agent pitch and, as a prisoner of human nature, privately hoped Santana didn’t make him look bad in Queens.
Cashman won the bet, along with a World Series ring. He signed Sabathia, watched Hughes develop into an invaluable reliever-turned-invaluable starter, used Marquez in the deal to get Nick Swisher, and turned Cabrera into Javy Vazquez, who, if nothing else, shut down the Mets in Game 1 on Friday.
But Sunday night, with the deciding game of this Subway Series hanging on the left arms tethered to the teams’ aces, Santana reminded Cashman and the rest of baseball why the Yanks almost picked him before they picked Sabathia.
Then again, maybe, if the Yankees got Santana, then, maybe they would have earned the Wildcard in 2008. Yeah, it’s a reach – because they did finish six games back. But, there’s a part of me that really feels swapping out Darrell Rasner in the starting rotation, that season, for Santana would have been good for six wins.
And, maybe, if the Yankees make the postseason in 2008, then, maybe they make it to the World Series and beat the Phillies for a ring? Yeah, it’s a reach – because they would have needed to get past the Angels and Rays in the playoffs. But, hey, you never know?
And, then, maybe, if the Yankees win a World Series in 2008, then, maybe New York doesn’t go out and spend a ton of money on CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixiera after 2008. Here, instead, maybe they get a stop-gap first baseman for 2009-10 figuring they’re going to need a parking spot for Posada/Jeter/A-Rod in the future. Or, a place for Jesus Montero to play? And, then, maybe that money spent on CC, A.J., and Tex would be saved to help the “budget” in 2010 – thus saving guys like Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon and allowing the Yankees to pass on guys like Randy Winn and Nick Johnson?
O.K., sure, this is kind of complex. But, it would be fun, if there was a way, to see what would have happened if the Yankees had traded for Santana…and what that would have meant, downstream, in the future.