Is anyone else scratching their head that the Twins got more for Matt Garza (Delmon Young) than for Johan Santana?
Certainly Billy Beane got a ton more for a lesser pitcher in Dan Haren, and the O's look to get more for Erik Bedard (if psycho-Angelos gives his blessing).
In one respect we are all being extremely unfair to Bill Smith. Both Haren and Bedard are signed for at least a couple of years at reasonable prices and Johan is demanding the moon and stars to waive his no-trade. But that begs a question: As the Twins were willing to go 5 years and $100mm for Johan, couldn't Smith have dramatically increased his potential trading partners - and also the return he got from the trade - by sending some cash along with Johan?
I know, I know, the Twins are a small mkt team and the strategy I recommend is exclusively a big market, Yankee/Red Sox/Mets/Angels strategy. But consider this - Smith was willing and able to spend $13mm this year and $20mm next to have Santana. While I don't know this, but if sending $20mm along with Johan to the Dodgers could have netted the Twins Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp wouldn't it have been worth it?
Assume Johan signs for 6 years $120mm. If the Twins send $20mm to the team that traded for him, the resulting deal is 6 years $100 million, or $16.66mm per year. While still not chump change, it may have been a big enough difference to maybe get the Dodgers, Cardinals, Angels, White Sox, Cubs and/or Mariners to the table along with the Mets, Yanks and Sox.
The reason Smith got as little as he did was the lack of someone bidding against the Mets; a little cash and imagination and he could have had multiple offers to negotiate with and ultimately to choose from.
The best GMs are those that not only play the trade game well, but also have the imagination to find ways to get the most from their trade chips. I think a little more imagination would have gone a long way toward the Twins getting a respectable return for Santana.