Trading away a pitcher of Santana's caliber is not an easy task, especially for a rookie GM. But Smith showed this past week he isn't afraid of taking risks. He gave up top pitching prospect Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett for last season's American League Rookie of the Year runner-up, outfielder Delmon Young, as part of a six-player trade with the Rays."One of our main objectives has been to add some offense to this club," Smith said. "We've taken some steps already, and we're going to try to continue to do that." But while a trade involving Santana likely will garner at least one star position player or prospect, it won't be enough to fill all the club's needs. The addition of a bat like Young's will help make up for the loss of Hunter offensively, but the Twins are seeking stronger bats for their other holes as well. In addition to the opening in center field, the Twins need reliable solutions at both third base and designated hitter. And the loss of Garza could mean the Twins are looking for additional pitching depth as well. A Santana deal could provide the Twins with a significant return in talent, but it's not quite as easy as it sounds. Any potential trade must be approved by the pitcher, who possesses a full no-trade clause. It's likely Santana also would require an extension be agreed upon with his new team before the deal is complete. And some teams may balk at the idea of giving up too many players in a deal while also having to spend close to $150 million on the left-hander. Santana may be the player attracting the most attention in Nashville, but the Twins are not without other bargaining chips. There have been musings the team could shop closer Joe Nathan, who, like Santana, will be a free agent after the '08 season. Nathan's $6 million option for '08 is cheap by industry standards, but recently signed deals like Mariano Rivera's three-year, $45 million contract with the Yankees demonstrate that keeping Nathan also will prove to be very expensive. Placing two of their elite pitchers on the trading block is just another sign that, unlike previous years, this year's gathering will be far from quiet for the Twins. "You prepare every year for a lot of activity," Smith said of the Winter Meetings. "But you have to go in and make good deals for the organization. If you can do that, great. If you can't make a good deal for the organization, then you are better off to hold off." Now is the time for other teams to see just how long the Twins might hold off when it comes to Santana.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less