Johan Santana To The Twins A Forgone Conclusion?
The Minnesota Twins spent time down in Venezuela yesterday, the club was there doing some scouting work on former Cy Young award winner, Johan Santana. Last week, teams watched the former staff ace throw a bullpen, but yesterday marked his winter ball debut. With the Twins once again hot on the trail of the former fan favorite, is it fair to say a signing remains all but certain?
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First off, remember that this isn’t going to be the Twins Johan of old. The devastating changeup may still be there, but paired with a fastball that now only rests in the mid to upper 80’s, the effects of the pitch are severely diminished. While plenty of pitchers survived in the major leagues, and even thrived (yes you Greg Maddux) with less than lightning stuff, it is a completely different mindset.
Last season, Johan Santana was attempting a comeback from his latest arm injury with the Baltimore Orioles. All signs seemed promising throughout the spring, and it looked like Johan would be capable of garnering a back-end of the rotation spot for Baltimore. Unfortunately, the injury bug got him again, and his 2014 season ended before it started. Fast forward to yesterday, and the Twins got a look at their former star, going up against some impressive hitters in Venezuela.
Yesterday appeared to be a promising start. He faced current Twins catcher Josmil Pinto, and looked good across his two innings pitched. 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson had some specifics on the outing.
With all of that in mind, this is where things begin to get tricky. The thought is that if everything pans out, it remains all but certain that Johan Santana will garner a minor league deal with a club. The expectation would be that the Twins are near the top of that list, if not a frontrunner. Also worth remembering, a minor league deal could be spent on much worse. The Twins recently tried a similar strategy with Rich Harden, who never appeared in a big league game for them after trying to work back from injury. It’s a low risk move that could pay solid dividends later, but right now, does it make sense for Minnesota?
Should the Twins bring Johan Santana back into the fold, he presents another option for the starting rotation should everything check out. He would be a back-end guy, and would be competing for the 4th or 5th spot. While the order may not matter, I’d argue that the names definitely do. If Johan Santana is in the Twins starting rotation, that means that someone like Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, Alex Meyer, or Trevor May is not, and that’s a problem. For the former two players, being outpitched by an ailing veteran doesn’t bode well for their long-term viability for the club, and the later two should be developing into quality pieces that represent the future.
No matter what happens in the coming days and weeks, the situation is worth monitoring. The fan in me would love to see Johan Santana back down in Fort Myers in a Twins uniform, but the baseball side of me wonders how Paul Molitor and Neil Allen will make all of the pieces fit.
Next: Projecting The 2015 Twins Starting Rotation