Yankees fans should be glad team didn't get Santana
Posted: Thursday January 31, 2008 3:51PM; Updated: Thursday January 31, 2008 4:15PM
In yet another sign that times have changed in the Bronx, the fact that the Mets have agreed to a trade that will bring the best pitcher in baseball to Queens has been received as good news by the Yankees and their fans. The Yankees had been in discussions with the Twins regarding Johan Santana earlier this offseason, at one time offering a package centered around right-hander Phil Hughes and center fielder Melky Cabrera, but the negotiations hit a snag regarding which additional prospects would be sent to Minnesota, as the Twins were reportedly asking for either right-hander Ian Kennedy or a combination of minor leaguers in starter Alan Horne and outfielder Austin Jackson.
Even in not making the trade, the Yankees managed to accomplish two of their primary goals which had previously seemed mutually exclusive: keep their own top prospects in pinstripes while keeping Santana away from the Red Sox.
Trading for Santana would have paid tremendous short-term dividends for the Yankees, possibly giving them the extra push they've needed to get back to the World Series, but given their young pitching talent, the team's long-term outlook is actually much brighter now than it would have been had the traded gone down.
The Yankees are a pitching-rich organization with a trio of ready-now starters, two of whom, 22-year-olds Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, are potential aces who will be in the major league rotation this year. According to Baseball Prospectus prospect guru Kevin Goldstein, the Yankees' collection of pitchers under age 25 is the second best in all of baseball, trailing only the Tampa Bay Rays.
Chamberlain and Hughes are projected to establish themselves as a dominant 1-2 punch atop the Yankee rotation, while 23-year-old Kennedy, who should also see time in the major league rotation this year, is expected to settle in as a mid-rotation starter. With two-time 19-game winner Chien-Ming Wang still several years away from free agency, and the 25-year-old Horne slated to start the year in triple-A, the Yankees have the makings of an entirely homegrown and cost-controlled rotation that could be among the best in the major leagues as early as 2009.
Parting with more than one of those pitchers as well as one or even both of the team's top centerfield prospects for the privilege of spending more than $20 million a year on a pitcher who is asking to be signed through is mid-30s was something Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was wisely unwilling to do.