I realize the matter of national pride and his desire to represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, but Johan Santana is set to get $31 million from the Mets this year (including a $5.5 million buyout) and that’s where his responsibility lies and the team has told him so.
Once ardent supporters of the WBC, the team has told Santana it doesn’t want him to pitch in the international event.
There’s no disputing Santana pitches hard and has been a workhorse when healthy, but the problem is staying healthy. Only in 2008, his first year with the Mets, did Santana make his entire allotment of 34 starts.
The Mets have paid Santana a considerable amount of money, including a full season (2011) when he gave them nothing. This is his last year with the Mets and the club is within their rights to insist he not risk injury in the World Baseball Classic.
The magic number for Santana this year is 215, as in the number of innings he must pitch for his $25 million option to kick in. Considering his recent history, that likely won’t be a problem, but if he’s healthy it will be an interesting scenario.
You can bet the Players Association would get involved if Santana was close and had to skip a start or two. If it involves a player getting less money, they will be all over it.
Actually, if the Mets can’t, or won’t trade him, they would be wise to periodically skip him to keep him strong.
Teams have monitored pitcher’s pitch counts for years, but only recently has the trend turned to limiting pitcher’s innings in a season. Innings clauses in contracts are designed for teams to get the most for their money, but that backfires in the case of injury or if a player reached the level to have his option kick in and pitch poorly the next year.
The only way I see the Mets letting Santana get close would be in the unlikely case of them actually competing for a playoff spot. Now, that would pose for an interesting dilemma.
METS MATTERS: Because of rain and chilly weather in Port St. Lucie, today’s workout is pushed back until noon. The pitching timetable is to start throwing batting practice Monday. … Manager Terry Collins’ first impression of his 2013 Mets was a good one in that 54 of the 58 players due in camp are already in Port St. Lucie. Missing are Marlon Byrd, Jordany Valdespin, infielder Wilfredo Tovar and Jenrry Mejia, the latter whose age on this visa is disputed. … Collins said he would give the edge to veteran relievers if the competition were close. Experience is always the best bet in that situation.