The New York Mets’ offseason is barely underway, and already GM Sandy Alderson has been asked about the possibility of Johan Santana returning to the team as it is expected to buy out the option year of his contract and make him a free agent. Santana returning to the Mets is intriguing to say the least, but it’s not something the Mets should entertain unless a lot of their other options fall through.
One of the Mets’ offseason needs is a veteran pitcher, and probably more than one, but they need to make sure that they bring in the right veteran pitcher to anchor their rotation, especially now that ace Matt Harvey has been officially ruled out for the 2014 season because of Tommy John surgery.
In a lot of ways, Santana would be lucky if he ever pitches in the big leagues again. He tore the anterior capsule in his left shoulder for the second time prior to the 2013 season and may not be able to work his way back to being a major league-caliber pitcher, although he has recently started throwing and intends to try his best to make it back to the big leagues.
The only way the Mets should bring back Santana would be if he agrees to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. It would be a no-risk move for the Mets, as it would offer no guarantees to Santana. That route may actually be the best for Santana, as he may not be able to get a guaranteed major league contract from a team considering his age and injury history.
From Santana’s perspective, his best bet may be to stay with the Mets, even if all they offer him is a minor league contract. He knows the organization and has gone through the same rehab process with the Mets’ personnel before, and that familiarity could help him get back to the big leagues.
Moreover, Santana should give the Mets a break if the opportunity presents itself. Not to sound crass, but the Mets didn’t exactly get what they paid for with the $137.5 million contract they signed him to before the 2008 season. He made only 21 starts over the past three years and in a way, Santana should give the Mets a discount if indeed they want him back.
Of course, Santana shouldn’t be near the top of the Mets’ wishlist this offseason, and they should only bring him back on their terms. Even if they brought him back on a low-risk deal, he’s not someone they should be looking to rely on in 2014.