Domingo Santana selected as the PTBNL in the Pence trade

As tweeted here.

My snap judgment is, I’d have rather it be someone else, because Santana has a ton of upside. The rational part of me says that this is fine, because Santana is a super high beta prospect. He has obvious upside, but his K rate is a huge red flag. Massive. I wish him the best and hope he turns in to a star. Pence hasn’t missed a beat with the Phillies, and the Astros package now represents almost all upside, with the exception of Zeid. This could end up being a massive hit for the Astros, or a stunning miss. Santana was looking like a good bet to remain in the Phillies top 10, so it is unfortunate, but it won’t break the farm system. At all. Anyone labeling this a disaster is just looking for attention or to try and create drama.

Astros fans, check out Santana’s player profile page here.

68 thoughts on “Domingo Santana selected as the PTBNL in the Pence trade

  1. Don’t know what other names were on the list but I would also have preferred it be someone other than Santana. Could be a smashing success as Ed Wade’s final hurrah with the Astros or another example of his inability to get anything back in a trade for an established all-star.

  2. I had him right outside May, Biddle, Colvin and Valle at #5 on our prospect list post-Hunter. Definitely the highest ceiling hitter in our system, and a pretty big loss.

    Based upon reports regarding Leandro Castro injury and his relation to being PTBNL, my imagination tells me this– Wade probably always wanted Santana in the deal, but Ruben balked and eventually offered Castro, who was injured, and came to an agreement on a deadline for Leandro to get back to playing and being included in the deal. When Castro continued to remain hurt, he had to give up Santana. There is really little to no other reason that it would have taken 2+ weeks to pick the absurdly obvious choice if Santana was always on the list.

    1. This seems plausible, given that the Astros were looking for Singleton, Cosart, AND Biddle. The drop down from Biddle to Santana and Zeid may have been what allowed the deal to go through.

  3. It’s actually quite a hual from the astros perspective for a non-superstar player in return. But, I like the phillies offense a whole lot better having done this, and in light of the alternative (125+ million for werth) I have to like the way the chips fell. It hurts to let Santana walk, if he turns into the next coming of babe ruth i’m going to shit a brick, but other then that. LETS GO PHILLIES!

  4. A bit surprised that Santana was the PTBNL, but he’s also a major project and a longshot to develop into anything more than a marginal player at the MLB level. Singleton still the only player with decent odds to be All-Star caliber, IMO.

  5. What happened to the supposed “player from a list of non-prospects” that all of the writers were twiddling about a few weeks ago? Tough loss for the Phillies.

    1. From a national level, Santana is NOT a major prospect. He’s probably not on anyones top 150 list.

      1. He’d probably be in the 150-200 range in all of baseball. I agree that him being traded is not a huge deal. But I also throw out that we have only 4 guys now (May, Biddle, Valle, and Colvin) who would even be considered top 150 in baseball. The MLB average would be 5. That is not good even if our system has decent depth. Would have preferred this PTBNL to be a little lower on our list for that reason.

        1. I think I may disagree with your numbers. I think Aumont might get some attention that low down on the list. Pettibone as well. That’s all a crapshoot down that low

          1. Not sure those guys are top 150. And frankly Colvin might not be either. Pettibone has had a nice year but does he really project to anything more than a 4/5 starter. Aumont has great stuff but is a reliever.

            I would also throw out that we might not have any top 50 prospects. May and Biddle are pretty sure to be top 100, but it would be a huge leap for them to be top 50. We still have decent depth, but IMO it is with guys that would be in the 250-500 range for MLB. We are running short of blue chip prospects.

      2. And? That doesn’t change the fact that two weeks ago we were led to believe that the ptbnl was not going to be anyone that would be missed. He will be missed. He’s certainly not a non prospect irregardless of arbitrary lists.

  6. Well, from the Astros’ perspective, getting three high beta players definitely limits the cumulative risk of the deal. It’s the same principle that venture capitalists use in investing in a bunch of little companies knowing that most of them will fail. If one of the three turns into a star, which I think we all agree is possible, then it’s a big win for them. If two or three do, then Ed Wade may once again be accepting the thanks of a succeeding general manager during a locker room celebration. (I always thought it was very gracious, but also honest, when Gillick said that first and foremost in 2008.) Including Santana makes the deal correspondingly more risky for the Phillies for exactly the same reason. Sure, there’s a chance that they don’t miss any of these players, but that chance is much smaller now that Santana has been included in the deal.

    I’m not expressing anger or dismay, though I am pretty shocked. I’m just pointing out that LarryM’s comparison to the Sandberg deal just got a little more plausible, though of course we won’t know whether he was right for 5-10 years.

  7. The reason folks are worried about Santanna is the massive DIRTH of quality position players.
    That is what will hurt.

    Here to to hopping that Gillies can actually get on the field ;>

  8. Shocked that Santana was on that list but his chances of making it are almost non-existent anyway.

  9. I really like Hunter Pence being on the team, but I still can’t convince myself that the Phillies didn’t overpay significantly. Even if the trade didn’t ruin the system, the fact remains that any or even all of these players could come back to seriously haunt the Phillies in a few years.

    While the Phillies DID need to trade for a fairly young OF who’s under team control for a number of years, did they really need to trade away some of their highest upside guys?

    I didn’t mind as much when top prospects went for Roy Halladay, who is almost universally considered the best pitcher in Baseball. Pence is possibly not even a Top 5 Rightfielder, and we gave up a similar haul. The trade isn’t a disaster, but it’s probably my least liked trade in the last few years.

  10. Sucks. I won’t join in the “well, he won’t be that good anyway!” rationalization party. Good for Wade for turning Pence into three high-ceiling prospects, I guess.

  11. I was really hoping it was not Santana. Oh well, when I am standing outside City Hall the end of October watching Hunter Pence waving his arms while standing on a parade float, ask me who the hell Domingo Santana is and i will totally have forgotten!

  12. I think we really gave up a lot here. Pat Gillick said that this year’s market was a seller’s market. Well, all those writers and fans who are so fixated on winning this year got their wish. I still wonder if we could not have gotten by with Brown in right. But, whatever, what do I know about these players or how to run an organization?

  13. Can we toss the Wade-gives-players-to-the-Phillies-for-nuttin’ meme into the same utter bullsh*t bin that CBP-is-a-bandbox should be rotting away in?

    Wade got a ton of upside out of a trade he entered without much leverage.

    1. Agree with everything except Wade’s leverage. Pence was the most popular guy on a team that doesn’t have much else going for it. Wade is quite possibly a lame-duck GM. No doubt the ownership was nervous about moving Pence, who will be expensive but not prohibitively so next year and the year after. I don’t doubt that the best move for Wade would have been to sit tight if he didn’t get a significant prospect haul in return. Seems to me that Wade had more leverage in the negotiations than Amaro did.

      1. If he truly had orders from above to cut payroll by $15-20M for next year he was in a bit of a bind because there weren’t many guys he could try to move to shed salary. To get the return he did in that situation is great management, though he should have gotten a lot more back for Bourn than he did.

  14. oh they definitly overpaid. look what the braves gave up for bourn – not even in the same ballpark. well, it’s time to have some well above average drafts.

    1. Pence has more time left on his current deal then Bourn. That’s another reason why he cost more.

  15. Since he was gonna dump Pence anyway, Wade won this one big time. Why did they even need Zeid included? Cosart, Singleton and Santana are already a pound of flesh.

  16. I posted this in the other section, but James is always like 8 steps ahead and created this thread, so I think I’ll put it in the correct location.

    1 WAR is worth about $2.5 million, and Pence is good for 3.5-4 WAR a year. So he’s worth about $10 million a year in any given year. His next contract will likely be right around that 10million dollar mark, and his contract after that will probably be around 13 million (assuming we don’t sign him long term). Since hes making $6.9 million this year and the Phillies have him for about 60 games, they’re paying him about $2.76 million. I’m pretty sure they got 1 million in the trade, so lets say the Phillies pay Pence about $1.76 million this year. Pence is on pace for right around a 4 WAR season, and the Phillies get about 60 games out of him, which is about 1.6 WAR for the Phils. Using the $2.5 million as the value of 1 WAR as stated above, Pence will bring us around $2.24 million dollars in surplus this year.

    Assuming Pence’s value is right around his career average, I would think a 4 WAR season next year is a pretty good estimation. If most people’s estimations for his arbitration contract are correct, Hunter will probably get a $10 million dollar contract next year, which means he won’t yield any surplus value; his contract will be market rate.

    The year after, Pence will likely draw a $13 million contract (or so the stuff I’ve read have suggested). I would again guess he’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of 4 WAR, which means he will actually yield a -$3 million dollar surplus.

    So, over the next 2.5 years or so, I would guess that Pence will be somewhere in the vicinity of -$.75 million dollars of surplus (+$2.25+$0-$3) given to the Phillies.

    If just one of Singleton, Cosart or Santana makes it to the major leagues and sticks, they should easily be able to yield a surplus of over -$.75 million. My guess though, is that they will be worth a whole lot more than that because for the first three years of any players career, they make league minimum. Basically, if any one of the three listed above plays a single season in the major leagues at a rate that isn’t below average, the Phillies will have lost the trade from a dollars perspective. And that’s without factoring Zeid into the discussion.

    Basically, I really, really don’t like this trade.

    1. Your figures and assumptions are wrong. 1 WAR is worth approximately $4M. It was worth slightly less last year, slightly more this year.

      Also, you don’t know what kind of salary Pence is likely to end up with. He won his arbitration case last year. If he goes to arbitration this year, he might get $10M. The Phillies don’t like going to arbitration. I expect he will sign a 4-5 year deal, with an AAV of between 9 and 11 million dollars. If he ends up making $13-15M per year, yes, there won’t be a lot of “value” there. But there is value in acquiring players who are 3-4 WAR players in the majors, because they don’t grow on trees.

      Understanding the long term value of this trade will require just that…a long term. Pence is controllable. The Astros have 3 lottery tickets and one 6th/7th inning reliever. It may be a huge win for them. It may also be a huge loss. The Phillies got the only sure thing in the deal, and its a player who is valuable, who will provide value, and who makes the big league team better not just in 2011, but in 2012, 2013, and possibly beyond.

      1. PP, the statement “But there is value in acquiring players who are 3-4 WAR players in the majors, because they don’t grow on trees.” is the whole key to everything. The Phillies are trading away possibly very valuable but uncertain players for a certain high quality player in Pence, who was furthermore a player who can contrbute now when we have a chance of winning the WS.

        I remember back when the BoSox gave up Hanley Rameriz for Beckett. Though in terms of “value” maybe they gave up too much, but in terms of what you have to do to accumulate enough talent to win a WS, they did the right thing.

        I hate the idea of Domingo becomming a great player, but if the Phils win the WS, he can become the next babe Ruth and I won’t be able to say it was a bad trade.

    2. To make the trade the Phillies had to think that Pence would be the player to balance the line-up and bring out the best in the other hitters. In this deal it is not the numbers that tell the story, but the essence of what Pence brings that had the Phillies go so high, but not as high as to trade a proven major leaguer. That is business in baseball. Numbers are helpful, but it is the intangibles that make a deal great or not. Let’s look back at it in two years. You may like the deal.

    3. I think that you also have to take into account that in any given season, a player’s 4th WAR should be worth significantly more than a player’s first WAR. I don’t think you can just take a $2.5 mil average value for each WAR when (totally hypothetically speaking with made up numbers) a 1 WAR player might be worth $1 mil, a 2 WAR player $4 million, a 3 WAR player $8 million and a 4 WAR player $15 million.

      Which is more valuable, Carrasco, Donald and Marson each having 1 WAR seasons for an aggregate of 6 seasons essentially for free or Cliff Lee for a season and a half at say 6 WAR in a season and a half at his below market salary? Both sides of that trade would hypothetically equal 6 WAR, but you have to say Lee’s is much more valuable.

  17. The tone of this blog has changed a lot. It used to be “any trade of a prospect is a horrible deal.” Now things have swung so far to the opposite direction, where any trade has to be considered a good one, and where no matter what prospects we give up, it’s not a bad deal for the Phillies. I feel like James is explicitly trying to make up for the general perception of his readers (as being more concerned with random prospects than the big league club), and is overcompensating in trying to do so.

    1. My view on prospects has changed a lot in the last 5 years as I’ve studied things in more detail. I’m not trying to overcompensate or “make up” for anything any readers here contribute. At the end of the day, the stuff written on the site is a reflection of me and of my opinion, which is of course subject to change.

    2. Phils farm system has changed a lot as well. When this blog was started it was generally considered to be in horrible shape. Going into this year it was considered one of the Top 5-10 in baseball.

      Likewise the MLB team has changed from a pretender to top contender.

      Life isn’t static. You don’t just judge everything one way because thats how you always did it. Things change and an open minded individual will see that and re-evaluate.

      1. The Phils system is in horrible shape compared to what it was at the start of the year. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

        1. it’s not in horrible shape at all, although i’m not thrilled with giving up santana, that’s for sure.

  18. It is hard to tell since the up-side players dealt are so young. I personally think that Singleton is going to be a very good if not great hitter. Cosart has a chance to be a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. We know the Phillies philosophy is to make the deal with minor leaguers. They don’t touch their player pool. The bench players were the best players by far on the Legion teams and grew into the best of the minor league players just by benefit of sitting on a major league bench. They are special no matter what we think in a moment of frustration.
    A major league organization has to feel that a trade that does not include these special players is a good one for them.
    That being said, the Phillies lack a great deal in their system. They have done a good job picking lower than other teams and have been efficient in purchasing talent. They can afford to do that now, but take a look at the rosters of the minors. Look at what simply moving Galvis and Rivero, DeFratus and Aumont did to Reading’s team. This trade takes three high up-side players. It will take some drafting skill and luck; plus excellent player development staff to build the system to a point that we can see Lehigh Valley and Reading with more prospects than filler.
    I guess we will begin with Larry Greene, Jr.

  19. Santana was a nice pickup by Wade. I don’t think he got a single player with the upside of Singleton, Santana or Cosart in the Bourn trade. Leads me to believe Wade may actually have a job lined up in Atlanta and NOT Philly after this season, as has been widely speculated 🙂

  20. WOW!!!! All of the talking heads were saying this was to be a low level prospect. I would not categorize Domingo as a low level at all – he’s a top 10 guy in our system (whereas Zeid was outside looking in). Getting Walding, Garvey and Shull would ease my pain 😉

    1. Got them with 4 OF’s now. so not a big need, Collier LF, Miguel Alvarez CF, Hewitt RF, Bill Rice in reserve- could be a regular if need be. 4 real IF’s Franco 3B, Duran SS, Alonso 2B with Carlos Perdomo as back-up so they could add another there. They might have the only need for a regular player till season’s end is a DH, and they got Murphy at 1B, with the 2 catchers Rupp And Lanning. Only DH candidate might be adding Stumpo as another C, but Don’t see that. Likely they add another OF to work in, and the 4th DH’s.. So, yeah, Altherr a good choice, and then Dugan
      with maybe Stumpo if they don’t want to disrupt the season of the younger OF’s as a longshot.

  21. Trades should not be judged on future performance. Just as the prospects could become superstars or scrubs, Pence could blow out a knee. Lots of unknowns. Trades can only be fairly evaluated on what we know now.

    Furthermore using stats like WAR can be misleading because it doesn’t take into account opportunity cost, which is very hard to quantify (for instance, as many have postulated, the Phillies may feel winning a pennant in the next 2-3 years is important because the window is closing).

    The most objective thing to do, given the lack of information, is look at comparable trades, and it would appear the Phillies gave up a huge amount of value for Pence, compared to previous high profile trades. However, so did the Giants for Beltran and the Rangers for Adams. That could mean there has been a shift in judging prospects, or it could be a result in group think.

    Whatever the case, Hunter Pence has been fun to watch and definitely makes us more dangerous for the time being

  22. I try not to look at these things in a vacuum. Phils let Werth go hoping Brown would be the heir appareant in RF. Unfortunately that didn’t work out so they needed a solid RH bat in RF. So here is how I see it.

    Werth ($18 mil per for 7 years), Singleton, Cosart, Zeid and Santana for
    Pence($11/12 per for 5 estimate), Greene and Quinn

    You make the call, but looks solid business wise to me.

  23. I’m glad the Phils held onto the catcher Rupp. We already have a good Outfield in big leagues with decent major league ready farm depth but we are low on good catching prospects. Either Valle or Rupp could turn out to be Choochs replacement in the next few years.

      1. Given his numbers at Lakewood, even with his late surge, Rupp seems to profile as a backup catcher in the majors, not as a potential starter. There is nothing wrong with a backup catcher – a young guy who can do the job would be better than annually overspending for a veteran – but I’d rather move a potential backup catcher than a potential power hitting OF, even if Santana is still far away and far from polished.

        Also, there is this:

        Rupp: OPS .736, age – almost 23
        Santana: OPS .780, age – just turned 19.

        1. I should have added, I’m okay with giving up Santana. There is, as James noted, a very strong chance that he flames out. But I don’t get the preference for hanging onto Rupp.

  24. Personally, yeah, it was a heavy price…but I think Amaro did the right thing acquiring Pence. Amaro is “all in” on trying to maximize this unique window in franchise history. Amaro knows this ride only has 2 or maybe 3 years left before these guys get too old to dominate anymore they way they are now.

    He clearly targeted Pence. I don’t think he ever really wanted Beltran or the other guys available, I think he wanted Pence. Not just because he was a RF, but because I think he saw Pence as a perfect fit on this team and in this clubhouse due to his personality.

  25. It was a high price BUT prospects are prospects period. You cannot expect to get something if you don’t wager highly for it….only time will tell and it is not like these young players would be able to walk onto the field in 2014/2015 into a job with the Phils. No doubt they would be in line behind other players -either the ones we have now or some other player obtained by free agency. If you are going to play a high stakes games with the best pitching in baseball you don’t worry about how successful some prospect might be in 3 or 4 years….enough please.

  26. I don’t mind the Pence deal in light of how the team has responded to the addition [which they do every year!].

    But, this is a great deal for the Astros when compared to the return in the Bourn deal. This trade really allowed Wade to demand less from Atlanta. Bottom line is that the Phillies have more to gain this year and next with Pence on the team. End of story, now just win baby!

  27. Another thing to consider is that Pence could be here for more than just two more seasons. He’s quite popular around here and and maybe he falls in love with the Phillies the way Cliff Lee did. So we could end up having Pence for the remainder of his career. See, I think the package we sent for Lee helped land him as a free agent as well. If we hadn’t gotten him in a trade, he wouldn’t have fallen in love with the organization. And, hey, we’ve still got Pat Gillick. Dude’s a genius.

  28. Should I also add that as a 16 year old signing [in March 2009], Santana will need to progress tremendously over the next 3 years to avoid rule 5?

    It is unfortunate that a bad organization like Houston will push the young prospects through too quickly. Cosart is already a prime example when he was moved up to AA by the Astros after the trade.

  29. Whether or not Dom Santana becomes a star is questionable at this point. But I believe in ‘baseball karma’. That is, fleecing a team in a trade does not always result in titles or chamionships—maybe outstanding careers, but not always titles. Here are a few fleecings, Mark McGuire and the Cards fleeced the A’s—no titles; Rays get Kazmir fleecing the Mets—no titles but a WS appearance; Angels got Nolan Ryan fleecing the Mets–no titles; Schilling, Astros fleece O’s-no ttiles; Nathan and Liriano to Twins from a fleeced Giants club—no titles; Randy Johnson to Mariners from fleeced Expos–no titles; Bagwell to Astros from Sox (LA)—no titles; Sandberg to Cubs from our fleeced Phillies–no titles; and then there is John Smoltz and the Braves from a fleeced Tigers—and you have one winner. Bottom -line, championships and titles are what the fans want.

    1. Um, that’s a pretty highly selective list of trades spanning three decades. I guess your point was that not all successful trades result in World Series titles? While that’s true, the counterexamples to your list start with the sale of Babe Ruth and go on and on.

  30. Ron you are the man. The Astros can have any Santana they want including Carlos. We want parades!!. Did Yankee fans care about prospects back in the day. HARDLY. Their farm system was only used to make trades. We as Phillies fans need to realize we are the gold standard. JUST WIN.

    1. If you follow the Phillies Minor League system, I would argue that the “value” question isn’t really in play here-iHunter Pence has huge and immediate impact. This is more the case of D. Santana was just fun to follow: here he was getting significant AB’s(In a full season league) at a time when other 19 year old prospects might just be packing bags to leave home for the first time. Santana’s path was unique, and who knew what might be around the corner! So, its too bad to see him go, just in that sort of “the next great” dream that we could have with him…

  31. The more and more I think about this trade, the more I feel like it was a success for the Phillies.

    Jarred Cosart has delivery questions, durability issues, and low K numbers for a power pitcher. More and more scouts believe he is destined for the bullpen.

    Jonathan Singleton will be a great hitter, however he was never going to put the red pinstripes on because of Howard, and even if Singleton made the smooth transition to Left Field, he (hopefully) would be blocked by Brown for the next decade.

    Josh Zied is only a bullpen piece without tons of potential.

    Domingo Santana needs vasts improvements in his approach at the plate, and if you’re striking out one out of every three times in Low A ball, there is a high chance you will flame out.

    Meanwhile, the Phillies got the only sure thing in the deal, and it has already paid major dividends. Anybody who thinks the Phillies “overpaid” for Pence is absolutely crazy.

    Also if it were up for me:

    Out of Cosart, May, and Biddle, I would rather have May and Biddle.

    Out of Singleton and Brown, I would rather have Brown.

    Out of Santana and Collier, I would rather have Collier.

    1. Sure, you say that now. You are only looking at it from a perspective of a Phillies fan. You have to be unbias. Yes, what you said could happen or Singleton could be the next Howard, Cosart the next Greinke and Santana could be another Ellsbury.

      Saying that everyone who thinks the Phillies overpaid is crazy is just wrong.

  32. It mostly comes down to the circumstances surrounding the deal. This trade makes a lot of sense to the Phillies. They have already invested a lot in their rotation and infield. They are in a position to win WS titles over the next few years. Adding Pence raises that probability significantly.

    This deal would not make sense for a team like the Cardinals or D-backs. They are teams trying to merely secure a playoff berth and don’t have the existing roster talent to be considered favorites should they get in.

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