Ervin Santana Is Now The Minnesota Twins' Top Trade Chip

By Brad Berreman

Dating back to the offseason, assuming a decent return in a deal, third baseman Trevor Plouffe stood out as the most tradeable player for the Minnesota Twins. But general manager Terry Ryan and the organization resisted the idea, to the point of trying to make young star Miguel Sano a right fielder in what proved to be an ill-conceived move. As for Plouffe, he has battled injuries through a disappointing season and is currently on the disabled list with a cracked rib.

The Twins are clearly sellers in the weeks leading up to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. In a case of good timing, Ervin Santana threw a complete game, two-hit shutout with eight strikeouts and zero walks against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday. Over his last four starts (27.2 innings) he has a 1.63 ERA with a 19:5 K/BB ratio, and Santana has gone at least five innings and allowed three earned runs or less in over half his starts so far this season (nine of 16).

There has been growing buzz about Santana as a trade target for other teams. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pointed to him as “perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market” last week, and LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the Texas Rangers took a “hard look” at Santana when he pitched against them last Friday night.

Santana is due to make $13.5 million in 2017 and 2018, and he has a $14 million team option ($1 million buyout) for 2019 that could also vest. Leaving aside that bad contract, and the prospect of having to eat some of the remaining money, a thin trade market for starting pitching should work to the Twins’ advantage. But the organization has failed to capitalize on the peak value of players over and over in recent years, and I can see a course of action that includes holding onto Santana when all signs point to it being the wrong move.

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