With Johan Santana’s season and possibly career over, it might be time to wonder if the Mets won the trade and subsequent contract signing.
For the cost of $137.5 million, Santana never pitched in a playoff game for the Mets and each winter his health was in issue. However, it is unfair to label him a bust, because unlike Bay, he produced when healthy. And, unlike Perez, there was never an issue of his effort or competitive nature.
Never was that in doubt. Not after pitching Game 161 in 2008 on an injured knee. There can be no question of his dedication in spending nearly two years rehabilitating his shoulder. There can be no question of his grit as he showed the night he threw 134 pitches in the only no-hitter in franchise history.
Getting a pitcher of Santana’s caliber was a no-brainer because with how the 2007 season ended for the Mets, blowing a seven-game lead with 17 remaining, pitching was a necessity.
However, a case can be made they overpaid, perhaps in prospects and definitely in terms of money.
At the time, the Yankees and Red Sox were engaged in a game of chicken with Minnesota for Santana’s services. Both deemed the Twins’ asking price too high and backed off to let the Mets swoop in.
Humber pitched a perfect game and Gomez – once one of the Mets’ three prized outfield prospects – is still in the major leagues.
Whether the Mets gave up too much in talent is up for debate, but the money was clearly too much. It wasn’t as if they were in a bidding war with anybody, so that makes $137.5 million exorbitant, especially since Santana had a history of arm injuries with the Twins.
On those nights when Santana was at the top of his game, he was a joy to watch. The initial shoulder injury was just the nature of the sport. However, this last spring was a study in frustration. There was the snit over Sandy Alderson’s comments that prompted Santana to throw off the mound when he wasn’t ready.
Did Santana re-tear his shoulder that day? Nobody knows for sure, but it didn’t help.
With hindsight being 20/20, maybe the Mets should have let Santana pitch in the World Baseball Classic. At least, that way his contract would have been insured.
In the end, Santana pitched only one complete season with the Mets, and they only had one winning year with him.
All for the paltry sum of $137.5 million. Not exactly hitting the jackpot.