With baseball's non-waiver trade deadline set to strike July 31, the Twins have a major decision to make on Ervin Santana.
At 10-6 with a 2.99 ERA plus an MLB-leading four complete games and three shutouts, Santana is the type of controllable All-Star starter contenders salivate over. Especially when you consider there weren't a lot of similar caliber pitchers on the market even before the Cubs nabbed Jose Quintana from the White Sox.
The big question the organization has to ask when considering whether to keep Santana is: Do the Twins consider themselves contenders now and in the near future?
Regardless of what happens over the course of a brutal next two weeks, I'd argue holding onto Santana this season and beyond makes a lot of sense. Here's why.
1. Santana's controllable contract
He's due $13.5 million in 2018 and has a $14 million club option for 2019. Trading him now would put the Twins in the less-than-desirable position of going into next season with Jose Berrios, Adalberto Mejia, Kyle Gibson, Hector Santiago, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Felix Jorge as the best candidates to make the rotation out of spring training.
Of course they could make some moves in free agency but nothing there is guaranteed.
Remember, the Twins are reportedly looking for controllable starting pitchers like Oakland's Sonny Gray, which is essentially a younger version of Santana.
2. They're desperate to win
After five straight losing seasons and six without a trip to the playoffs the Twins have the opportunity to buy talent now to chase down a very reachable playoff spot.
Entering games Friday the Twins are only 2 1/2 games out of first in the Central and one game behind the Yankees for the first Wild Card.
3. Bartolo Colon
"The only reason that I [chose] the Twins was because of Santana," Colon told the New York Post after struggling in his first start with the Twins' Triple-A affiliate Thursday night. "He’s a close friend, best I have on the team. He talked to [me], and convinced me to go to the Twins."
According to the New York Post, the Mets were in a state of "disbelief" when Colon picked the Twins over a return to New York after being cut by the Braves. So why would Colon sign with the Twins if Santana, "the only reason" Colon picked Minnesota, could be traded a few weeks later?
And the Twins should want to keep Colon happy. He could stabilize the rocky fifth spot in the rotation for the rest of 2017 if he gets close to his old form.
And maybe Colon got a good indication that Santana will more likely than not stick around?
You be the judge.