It appears like such a shocking question to ask, but should the Mets deal their ace Johan Santana?
The Mets have a great deal of money invested in the ailing ace who has failed to complete 30 starts since the 2008 season, his first year with the Mets. With Santana’s health in question and no clear return date, would it be in the Mets best interest to trade Santana in a deal similar to the deal the Padres made when they traded their ace Jake Peavy to the White Sox in 2009?
Peavy signed a three-year $52 million contract extension with an option for 2013 with the Padres after the 2008 season. Not long after, Peavy went down with a torn ankle tendon in May of 2009. Instead of waiting for the former Cy Young award winning righty to heal up, the Friars decided to ship Peavy to the White Sox for a slew of pitching prospects. So far, the only prospect from the deal that has truly benefited the Padres has been Clayton Richard who has 20-12 with a 3.84 ERA since joining the Padres in 2009. As for Chicago, Peavy, who has gone 10-6 with a 4.11 ERA since joining the White Sox, is once again on the disabled list, this time with a torn right latissimus dorsi muscle. It appears the Padres ran away with that deal, saving themselves from not only a $52 million commitment, but getting a young, quality starter out of the deal.
Could this be the Mets in the near future with Santana? The two-time Cy Young award winner has battled through many injuries the past few season. In 2008, in an unforgettable performance to prolong the Mets postseason hopes, hurled a three-hit shutout with a torn meniscus in his knee. In 2009, Santana pitched for nearly a month with bone chips in his throwing elbow. Then most recently in late 2010, Santana left a game with a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder, probable to return in mid-July. Obviously Santana will try to play through any injury until his body physically will not allow him, but these constant injuries are not exactly worth his $77.5 million and three guaranteed years left on his contract.
So the 77.5 million dollar question is: Should we trade Santana?
If Alderson decides to go into rebuilding mode, a decision that will most likely be determined by this season’s July 31st trade deadline, Santana should probably be dealt in order to make room for the talented young starting pitching prospects making their way through the farm system. Given his estimated time of return, it gives him and the Mets the chance to show he is fully capable of performing at a dominant level.
But who can afford such a large contract? The Angels, Redsox, Tigers and Yankees come to mind. It is a stretch, but it is possible that the Mets could find a fit for Santana with the cross town rival Yankees, who pursued Santana in the 2008 offseason before the Mets acquired the 32-year old southpaw. The Yankees are in desperate need of established starting pitchers and are willing to pay top dollar to fulfill this need. The Yankees might even be willing to trade their blue chip prospect Jesus Montero and maybe a mid-level pitching prospect for the chance to add another ace to their uncertain pitching staff. This is completely hypothetical but if the time comes to deal Santana, a team that could not only take on Santana’s enormous contract but have prospects the to give a package of promising young talent back to the Mets.
If the time comes where Alderson needs to clean house and rebuild, Santana’s uncertain health may be too much than the Mets can work with when choosing who to build a new team around.