Patrick Reusse: Zito deal gives 126 million reasons to expect Santana will be gone

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 30, 2006 - 12:10 AM

The lefty's Giants contract means Johan Santana's price tag will be well out of reach of the Twins' budget.

The Twins' offseason officially became depressing on Thursday. This happened when Barry Zito, 28 and a winning lefthanded starter, agreed to a seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.

We know now there's a possibility the Twins will have a Venezuelan with a first name pronounced Yo-haan in their rotation when the new ballpark opens in 2010, but he will not be the one to whom Minnesota fans are now attached.

Zito has signed for $18 million per year, and that means there is zero chance Johan Santana will be pitching for the Twins following the 2008 season.

Zito is excellent at what he does and has not missed a start in five seasons. His new contract is the largest ever given to a pitcher.

Santana became a full-time starter halfway through the 2003 season and has been baseball's best since then. He will turn 28 in March. If he continues that excellence through 2008 and then becomes a free agent, he will be the first $200 million pitcher.

Goodbye, Twins. Hello, New York City.

Earlier this week, the Star Tribune sports department selected the Twins as an organization as its Sports Person of the Year. This came in the aftermath of an improbable 96-victory season.

Come next winter, the smiles will be more difficult to find among Twins employees and fans.

Torii Hunter was the face of the Twins' revival that started in 2001. Santana replaced Torii in that role when he won his first Cy Young Award in 2004.

There was a feeling a couple of months ago that the Twins were being generous when they picked up Torii's 2007 option for $12 million.

Then Toronto center fielder Vernon Wells signed a contract that matched Zito's in value: $126 million. That deal will put a price tag on a Hunter extension -- say, four years, $60 million -- the Twins won't be able to consider.

There will be two options for General Manager Terry Ryan: A) Trade Hunter this summer, no matter where the Twins are in the standings; or B) keep him for a potential pennant race, then allow Torii to leave as a free agent.

If Ryan goes with B, that would create an anguished scene for Twins followers during the next offseason. Hunter would be signing elsewhere at the same time Ryan was taking offers for Santana.

You can let Hunter leave as a free agent and get away with it. You can't possibly do the same with Santana, perhaps the most valuable individual commodity in the game at the moment.

Johan will be dealt before the Twins report to spring training in 2008. That became a given when the Giants presented $18 million per year to Zito.

Depressing, yes, but there is hope for that other Yo-haan. This pitcher actually spells it with the Y: Yohan Pino, just turned 23, from Turmero, Venezuela, and righthanded.

Pino was 14-2 with a 1.91 ERA while pitching for Class A Beloit this summer. He made seven starts among his 42 appearances. He's also 5-0 with a 1.73 ERA as a reliever for Aragua in the Venezuelan Winter League.

He's listed at 6-3 and 158 pounds, meaning the Twins will need to get some red meat in him to make him strong enough to be a starter. For now, the topprospectalert.com website has Pino listed No. 5 on its top 10 for Twins prospects.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
NJIT 51 FINAL
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
TCU 45 FINAL
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
UNLV 61 FINAL
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close