Rumors are surfacing that Johan Santana is close to signing a minor league contract with an unknown team with the hopes of resuming his major league career in 2014. There have been reports of at least seven different teams that have contacted Santana this offseason, but if he is smart, he will choose to return to the New York Mets.
If Santana is mulling over offers for minor league contracts, it means that no team is guaranteeing him a major league contract, which is understandable considering his age and recent injury history. He’s had surgery to repair a torn capsule in his shoulder twice, and he hasn’t pitched in a competitive game since August 2012. But if he wants to return in 2014, his best bet is with the Mets.
Santana has spent the past six years with the New York. He has gone through rehab for several injuries with the Mets, and he knows the organization well, including Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen. Santana has a good relationship with the Mets as an organization, and that level of comfort can only be beneficial for him during the rehab process.
Moreover, Santana knows that he’ll have a chance to compete for a spot in the Mets’ starting rotation. New York has a solid group of four starters, but the fifth spot will be an open competition during Spring Training between pitchers like Santana that come to camp on minor league contracts, Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero and perhaps a few other of the Mets’ top pitching prospects.
If Santana is healthy and pitches well, the Mets will have no problem putting him in their starting rotation to begin the season, especially with Mejia returning from injury as well. The team does not want to rush Montero and their other prospects to the big leagues.
Obviously, Santana will have several options, but the Mets may be his best. Him returning to the team on a minor league contract would be a win for both sides.