Johan Santana Signs With Orioles; It’s Official, Mets Lost Deal

Despite both sides saying continuing their relationship remained a possibility, we all knew when the New York Mets gave Johan Santana a $5.5 million buyout for this season that would never happen.

It’s what parting sides always claim when they don’t want to say what’s really on their minds.

SANTANA: Offiical: Mets lose trade (AP)

SANTANA: Offiical: Mets lose trade (AP)

From his part, Santana would liked to have kept on milking the cash cow. The Mets however, weren’t happy he threw before he was scheduled that final spring and ended up sitting out the entire 2013 season.

After spending $137.5 million, they weren’t about to throw good money after bad, especially since Santana made it clear he wasn’t going to offer a “home team discount.’’ Instead, Santana settled on a minor league contract today with the Baltimore Orioles.

Any contract is a risk, especially a six-year deal for a pitcher who had already experienced shoulder problems before he broke down with the Mets. In the end, for all that money, the Mets received one solid year, a tainted no-hitter, but without question, 100 percent effort whenever Santana took the mound.

They did not receive the repeated 20-win seasons and playoff appearances they had hoped. In short, they gambled and lost.

After they lost Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and kicked away a seven-game lead with 17 games remaining in 2007, and in dire need of pitching, the Mets rolled the dice on Santana.

The Mets sent four prospects – one of them turning out to be All-Star outfielder Carlos Gomez – for the overworked and already damaged left-hander. They then signed him for at the time was the richest contract in franchise history.

As what often has been the case with the Mets, in both the trade and subsequent contract negotiations, they bid against themselves.

Santana became available because both the Yankees and Red Sox backed off, so as the only real party to the table, they could have had him for less. And, because the Twins weren’t going to bend to Santana’s salary demands, the Mets agreed to giving him way too much money.

Outside a 15-7 record with a league-leading 2.53 ERA in 34 starts in 2008, his first season with the Mets, Santana never completed a full year in New York and didn’t pitch at all in 2011 and 2013 because of shoulder injuries.

With a full season is considered 34 starts, Santana left 95 starts on the table. That is far more glaring than his production of 46-34, a 3.18 ERA and the only no-hitter in franchise history.

The no-hitter came in his 12th start after rehabbing from shoulder surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. To this day, manager Terry Collins laments letting him throw 134 pitches.

Ironically, it was a tainted no-hitter because a blown call on what should have been an extra-base hit for Carlos Beltran |was ruled a foul ball.

Had that call been made correctly, then Santana doesn’t throw that many pitches, then, who really knows?

Santana made only 10 more starts for the Mets before he was shut down in August of 2012. In spring training of 2013, in an angered response to GM Sandy Alderson’s comments he didn’t report in shape, Santana went against his prescribed rehab routine and without Collins’ knowledge, threw off the mound and aggravated the injury.

In another dose of irony, the pitcher often fueled by pride was done in by the same. Santana re-tore the capsule and underwent a second surgery.

To this day, Santana never acknowledged his mistake of throwing off the mound, and Anderson never admitted whether his dig at the left-hander’s condition was meant as motivation and backfired.

Either way, after that day, the Santana Era was over, regardless of what either side claimed.

9 thoughts on “Johan Santana Signs With Orioles; It’s Official, Mets Lost Deal

  1. You know what? Most of the time those long term contracts for guys past their primes just don’t work out.

  2. To this day, Santana never acknowledged his mistake of throwing off the mound, and Anderson never admitted whether his dig at the left-hander’s condition was meant as motivation and backfired.

    I never understood this.

    • Dave: Neither do I. Coming off surgery, one would think Santana’s rehab program would be scripted. Evidently, this wasn’t the case. Or maybe it was, but Santana didn’t follow it. If it was a dig by Alderson, I might think he was holding back in letting Santana have it. Say what you will about Alderson, but Santana had no business throwing on the mound that day. None.-JD

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  4. Gomez was traded for JJ Hardy and grew up a few years before he was an all star. Maybe they mishandled Johan’s arm (or he did ?) but the no-hitter made my kids Met’s fans for life.

    I’d call 1 yr of good Johan AND a no-hitter for JJ Hardy a push at worst, h

    I don’t think Omar negotiated 2 good contracts outside of Reyes/ Wright

  5. Wow. I wholeheartedly disagree with your general thesis that the Mets “lost” the Johan Santana trade.

    The Mets gave up four prospects, whom, at the time of the trade, were determined to be equal to the value of “a box of balls” and maybe some swing doughnuts. In fact, it was generally thought that the Mets “stole” Santana from the Yankees and Redsox because of what was given up. Did they bid against themselves when giving him a contract? Maybe, but that was necessary (and is still necessary, six years later) to lure big name free agents to the team.

    As far as Carlos Gomez being an “All-Star,” yes he made the All-Star team last year. However, his career numbers career .303 OBP and .710 OPS are hardly All-Star worthy. But for the 2013 season (and arguably the 2012 season), Gomez has barely been a replacement level player save for his defense. And I LOVED Carlos Gomez. I was at Yankee Stadium when he robbed a homerun to preserve the win for Oliver Perez, and I wanted Fernando Martinez included in the trade instead.

    Moreover, you fail to mention the other three players involved in the trade. Kevin Mulvey is not even playing baseball today, and Deolis Guerra is still toiling away in the Twins farm system, yet to make is his MLB debut. Phil Humber may have thrown a meaningless perfect game, but his career .404 winning percentage and 5.31 ERA are laughable at best. To wit, the journeyman pitcher is now a member of the Houston Astros (’nuff said).

    Santana, on the other hand, gave us that one sparkling season where he almost brought us to the playoffs single-handedly (bet you think Tom Glavine was good signing, right?). He gave us a very meaningful no-hitter (only one in franchise history), which is completely legitimate. Calls are blown everyday, it is part of the “human nature” aspect of this wonderful past-time. Does Armando Gallaraga have a perfect game? We all saw him pitch one, but he does not have one on the books, because of a blown call. There are countless other examples.

    Moreover, Santana gave us someone who Mets fans not only wanted to see play, but who we loved to watch play. He is not Jason Bay, Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez or any other of the countless bums whom the Mets have paid millions upon millions to play for our team. He never shied away from the media, never complained about losing and was a consummate professional, all of which you acknowledge, but seem to severely downplay.

    I hope that you will read my comments and re-evaluate your assessment of the trade. Did it end up being a great trade, no, but you must acknowledge that the Twins lost that trade.

    • John: Thanks for your well thought out response. I wrote this in the context that the Mets could have gotten Santana from the Twins for less, and with no competition they could have signed him for less, too. With the Yankees and Red Sox out of the picture, where was he going to go? With Santana already Mets property after the trade, they were bidding against themselves, especially for a pitcher with a previous shoulder injury. … I don’t dispute you for a second Mets fans wanted to see Santana pitch. However, he only pitched one complete season for the Mets and left a bunch of starts on the table. That is the context in which I was writing. … I loved watching Santana pitch, I only wish I had gotten to see him more. … By no means did the Twins win either, unless you consider getting out from under his contract. … All trades and long-term contracts are a risk. I just believe the Mets expected a lot more for the $137.5 million they spent. That was my point. Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate your time and effort and hope you’ll continue to visit this blog. Best to you-JD