There is nothing in this morning's papers about Johan Santana,and, with Christmas 15 days away, I won't be surprised to see that remain the status quo. That is too bad as the specualtion involved is as compelling as any reality television show except, maybe, VH1's America's Most Smartest Model.
All the focus has been on how many top flight prospects other teams should be willing to pay to acquire the two-time CY Young winner. What isn't given quite as much attention is why the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Mariners, Angels and Dodgers should pull the trigger beyond a reading of Santana's curriculum vitae.
In addition to Santana's final year of his contract, which expires after the 2008 season, what any team is acquiring is the exclusive negotiating right to sign Santana to a contract extension in the $120-$160MM range. That price tag necessarily limits the list of potential suitors to those currently involved, and really just to the most deep-pocketed of teams.
The assumption underlying the acquistion is those teams should pay for those two parts. But what if those teams decide to pull their offers and commit to signing him in next year's free agent market instead?
From that point-of-view, the Yankees and Red Sox would basically commit to a bidding war, and how many think another team would be capable of breaking the bank the way the Yankees could as they head into the opening of their new stadium? Based on this analysis, the second-tier clubs are the ones who should value the excluive negotiating right because they are the ones who will not be able to compete in a bidding war next winter.