In a move that will shock no one, the Mets are expected to pay Johan Santana a $5.5 million buyout over the next couple of days instead of picking up his $25 million option for 2014. But that doesn’t mean Santana’s days in Flushing are over.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported Thursday that one Mets official said the team would be “happy to give him a chance” to come back with the Mets on an extremely modest deal.
The Mets will almost certainly sign one veteran free agent pitcher, if not two, this off-season. So one of them could be Santana, right? Well, Rubin writes that re-signing Santana “does not appear to be a priority.”
That sounds about right. In all likelihood, both Johan Santana and the Mets are ready to move on. He has missed two of the last three seasons and the Mets will probably want someone who is more reliable.
There are plenty of pitchers out there whose health is not in question; why would the Mets take a chance on Santana? Of course, if he is healthy he could be an ace. But he will turn 35 before the 2014 season begins. Even if he had remained healthy, his career would probably begin its eventual decline about now.
So Johan Santana’s time in the blue and orange is all but over. His Mets career has to be viewed as a disappointment. He went 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA, making just 109 starts over his six seasons.
He was exceptional in his first year, his only complete season, it would turn out, leading the league in ERA at 2.53. He had 16 wins and probably would have won at least 20 and the Cy Young if the bullpen didn’t blow so many games for him. He also pitched that complete game three-hit shutout (on a gimpy knee) on the second-to-last day of the season to (temporarily) keep the Mets in the playoff hunt.
And of course, he ended the Mets inexplicable no-hit drought in 2012. That alone was worth the $137.5 million they paid him.