Revisting the Johan Santana Trade
Now that Carlos Gomez has been sent to the Milwaukee Brewers, it is time to look back at the trade that brought him to Minnesota. Gomez was the centerpiece of the Mets’ trade for Johan Santana. Santana was at the time coming off a 5th place finish in the AL Cy Young award, and he had won the award twice in the last 4 years, coming in 3rd in the other season. But Santana was one year away from free agency. The Twins did not want to pay the full price for a Cy Young winning pitcher, so they looked for trade partners and found the Mets.
The Mets traded Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey, and Deolis Guerra for Johan Santana on February 2, 2008. Guerra was in advanced A ball at the time, and he has moved onto AA. His minor league numbers are not great, but he is only 20. Mulvey was in AA at the time and has since advanced to AAA. His numbers are not bad, though not great either, and he should at least spend some time with the big league club next year. Unfortunately he was claimed by the Diamondbacks off of waivers, and he basically became the “player to be named later” in the trade for Jon Rauch.
Gomez and Humber were the two major league ready players in the deal. Humber has pitched in 19 MLB games in the last 4 seasons, with one start. He has an ERA above 6, walks as many as he strikes out, and gives up a home run every other inning. He has been exceptionally bad at the big league level, and being 26, age is no longer an excuse. He was released in April. Gomez has 1100 plate appearances in the last 3 seasons, playing 290 games in his two years with the Twins. With an OPS+ of 75, he is a well below-average hitter. Gomez, however, is an outstanding center fielder. Given that he makes the major league minimum, he is a useful player. If he ever makes more than that, Gomez will have to learn to hit. He is only 23, so there might be some hope.
Gomez’ true value for the Twins was a trading chip to acquire JJ Hardy. Hardy is coming off his worst season, but he remains a very good defensive shortstop. Because of his fielding, he contributed 1.4 wins above replacement in a down hitting year. Is all of this worth Johan Santana?
Santana was 3rd in the Cy Young voting in 2008. He led the league in ERA in 2008 and his ERA rose to only 3.13 in 2009. His won/loss numbers are depressed because of the anemic Mets offense and poor bullpen, but he has still been an exceptional pitcher for two years. It is tough to see how he was not worth more than two minor leaguers, only one of whom looks like a major leaguer, and two below average major league players.
How do you feel about the Santana trade two years out?