I read a blog post yesterday, that claimed the Mets won the Johan Santana trade, based on the talent given up, but lost on the contract extension. This couldn’t be any less accurate or more naive.
While it is true the players surrendered didn’t amount to much on the major league level and Santana did have several productive years, one cannot separate the trade from the contract because they are linked. The trade was made because Santana waived his no-trade clause and agreed to a six-year extension.
Translated: There would have been no trade without the contract.
I wrote at the time the “Mets overpaid for Santana both in terms of players” – not that it matters now – “and in money.” That has proven to be correct.
The market for Santana was Boston and the Yankees, and the Mets only became involved only after both those backed off because of the Twins’ demands. When the deal was made Omar Minaya admitted Santana came back to them.
In essence, the Mets were bidding against themselves, something Minaya also did in the contracts for Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo and several others.
The contract of $137.5 million over six years was excessive for Santana because of the accumulated innings on his arm and he had a previous arm injury. Six years is a gamble for any pitcher at any time because of the fragility of the arm, shoulder and elbow. Too many things can go wrong and the team ends up paying from damaged goods.
I believe, as I did then, the Mets misjudged the market and overpaid for Santana. While he did win for the Mets, he was injured at the end of every season and required surgery. The Mets already paid for one season and received nothing, and it is possible they could be on the hook for three more years.
Any trade is a gamble, but this one the Mets lost. That is, unless Santana makes a full recovery and pitches – and wins – for a pain-free three more years.
Anybody want to take that bet?
Thoughts from Joe D.
I loved the trade and honestly, at the time, I couldn’t care less how much the Mets had to pay Johan to get the deal done. I only cared that he was the top starting pitcher in baseball and after tasting the post season in 2006 and missing the post season by only one game in 2007, Santana was what we needed to get back. It didn’t happen, but it was a great deal for the Mets at the time both in players and money. Sometimes things just happen and they don’t work out. Santana was also a STEAL compared to the Barry Zito and Mike Hampton deals, lets not forget that while we’re at it.
Johan Santana has pitched three seasons for the Mets out of four. In those three seasons he went 40-25 (.615) with a 2.87 ERA in 600.1 innings pitched. If he comes back and gives us two more seasons like that, the deal is a win all the way around.
All of that said, I think it’s pretty silly of Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLBTR to separate the trade from the contract as the deal doesn’t get completed without the players AND the extension. You can’t separate the two. That’s like saying the Mets made a great deal for Jim Fregosi if you separate the Nolan Ryan part from it.
I’m not ready to call this deal a bust yet. There’s still more baseball to be played.