Let's get scientific for a couple of minutes. If there is a finite number of elements in this universe, there are only so many ways those elements can be put together. If space is infinite but governed by the same set of rules, those elements can be put together in the same way an infinite number of times.
That is, in its most basic form, the theory of the multiverse. Think of it like the joke about monkeys pounding away on typewriters and eventually coming out with Shakespeare - in an infinite set, there is a probability that it would happen eventually. If you're left with a finite type of bricks but an endless lot upon which to build, you'll eventually build the same structure. Which means that, in regards to the multiverse, there are other earths, other cultures, other versions of yourself. Out there, somewhere. No, they're not you, but some of them are living a strikingly similar life with only the smallest of differences given choices and circumstance.
It's in one of these mirrors that the Twins didn't trade Johan Santana. In fact, they signed him to the extension he was rumored to have demanded at the time: seven years at $140 million.
That extension would have expired after the 2014 season. But let's back up a minute and re-trace our timeline.
September 26, 2007: Ben Maller of Fox Sports says there's smoke regarding the Dodgers' interest in Santana, tossing out Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. This is the best package the Twins were ever rumored to have on the table, but considering it was still just September this was never even an unofficial offer.
November 12, 2007: Jesse, in any universe, is still sick of lazy analysis from John Kruk:
Jesse previews potential trade targets with the Yankees: Chamberlain, Kennedy, Hughes, Hilligoss, Tabata.
Jesse previews potential trade targets with the Mets: Milledge, Wright, Martinez, Pelfrey, Gomez.
Jesse previews potential trade targets with the Dodgers: Young, Kemp, Kershaw, LaRoche,
November 28, 2007: The Red Sox are willing to add Coco Crisp to any deal but are hesitant on Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees, meanwhile, say Robinson Cano and Joba Chamberlain aren't available but Melky Cabrera (and, referenced elsewhere, Austin Jackson) and a "top young pitcher" - possibly Ian Kennedy.
December 3, 2007: There is concern that the Yankees are tampering, because Hank Steinbrenner can't keep his mouth shut.
December 4, 2007 - Part I and Part II: It appears that Santana to the Red Sox is almost a done deal. It sounds like it will be Santana for Lester, Crisp, Lowrie, and Masterson. LEN III later notes that a deal including Lester and Ellsbury is possible, while the Angels jump in with a package based around Jared Weaver and Brandon Wood. Another scout tells Joe Christensen that they think Alexi Casilla is a "more rounded" player than Jed Lowrie.
January 10, 2008: Word comes that the Mets have offered Carlos Gomez, Deolis Guerra, Kevin Mulvey and Philip Humber for Santana. Christensen believes that if the Mets added Fernando Martinez to the offer that Smith would be forced to pull the trigger.
January 22, 2008: With still no trade, Jesse considers Smith's options in a season that's already seen him lose Torii Hunter and, recently, trade away Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett.
It is at this point that our universes diverge. The Twins, unhappy with the waffling and the in-and-out suitors, bite the bullet and sign Johan Santana to a seven year, $140 million dollar contract. It is the biggest deal ever for a pitcher.
In 2008 that deal probably works out. The team doesn't sign Livan Hernandez. Okay, so Morneau and Cuddyer aren't signed to multi-year deals and the team, beyond this season, either has to keep them on board via arbitration or trade them to make room on the payroll. But in the short-term it doesn't affect roster decisions a great deal since the team was never big in the free agent market to begin with. It's very possible that, instead of losing the AL Central to Chicago by an unfortunate game 163, the Twins head into the post-season with a pitching staff equipped to possibly upset Tampa Bay.
But whether or not Santana stayed healthy, there is no doubt that - by this point in time - the Twins would be regretting their decision. The real crunch would begin in 2009 and especially in 2010, if the organization still chose to extend Mauer. At the time, though, in January of 2008, I think a decent portion of the fan base would have been exceptionally pleased to have had Santana retained. I'd have probably been one of them.
2014 would be the year that the extension expired. Knowing what we know about Johan now, you have to be thankful that, at the very least, this team wasn't strapped by that contract.