His value isn't what it was after 2006. By his enormous standards, he had a substandard 2007 season, going 15-13 with a 3.33 ERA. He gave up 33 home runs, nine more than his previous career high, and scouts have mentioned subtle warning signs, such as his reluctance to throw his slider.
In any Santana trade, the Twins might want an established star, such as Robinson Cano or Jose Reyes, along with multiple prospects. But that is a pipe dream.
The game has changed. Teams are far more reluctant to part with young, established stars.
In 1998, the Twins shipped Chuck Knoblauch to the Yankees for Cristian Guzman, Eric Milton, Brian Buchanan and Danny Mota. Guzman and Milton became All-Stars for the Twins.
But the Yankees have become wiser in recent years. So have the Red Sox.
And for all his credentials, Santana isn't even the most coveted player on the trade market. That would be Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera.
Asked which one would bring the bigger return, one National League scout said Cabrera, adding, "it's not even a discussion."
The 24-year-old Cabrera could transform a lineup with his righthanded bat. And he's not eligible for free agency until after 2009.
The Marlins have been shopping Cabrera all month and have yet to find the right match.
The good thing is, it only takes one team to make the process all worthwhile.
When the Twins traded Pierzynski four years ago, they had the Giants bidding against the Cubs. The Twins weren't satisfied with either offer until the Giants agreed to include Liriano as a throw-in.
For Santana, the Twins could get five or more teams into the sweepstakes.
The Mets have the biggest need. They are desperate for starting pitching.
The Yankees need a front-line starter, too. And since the Yankees are interested, the Red Sox are too, if only to drive up the Yankees' price.
Ultimately, the Twins will have their pick of some good offers. But probably nothing that would make their fans forgive them for giving up a pitcher who is 93-44.
Joe Christensen firstname.lastname@example.org