Well the media for the most part has made Twins GM Bill Smith out to be the fool in the Johan Santana trade. In many ways it’s justified. He could have had Phil Hughes at one point (supposedly), and Hughes alone is probably better than what he got. But just for a minute, pretend you’re the GM of the Twins on Tuesday.
You have the best pitcher in baseball, but he won’t sign a long term deal. You have him for one more season at $13+ million. He comes to you and says “trade me now, or I’ll use my no trade rights and just stay for the season and bolt at the end.” So you’ve got to trade him or keep him. The Red Sox and Yankees have both pulled out, despite the fact that you offered the Yankees a deal without Phil Hughes (Ian Kennedy and Chien-Ming Wang, as it were). That leaves you with the Mets, who are offering 4 B-range prospects. One kid is a project pitcher with potential, 2 others are young pitchers with limited upside but a good shot to be members of the rotation. The last is a kid ready to play a great CF and steal bases at the Major League level but his bat may or may not pan out.
So you have two options: do you hold onto Santana or pull the trigger? Sure if you keep Santana, you’ll still get draft picks. And of course, you could have a draft like the Yankees in ’06 where you use those picks to choose Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain (not literally, but players of the same caliber). But most top picks do not pan out and become real prospects, especially when you’re the Twins and you can’t draft anyone who demands a signing bonus. Those 4 guys the Mets are offering will likely all be better than the 2 guys you draft.
So again, what do you do? I think you have to make the trade. It sucks. But you have to. And what makes it worse, the average fan certainly does not understand the economics of it.