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?

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6 Comments on “Revisting the Johan Santana Trade”

  1. youngjedifresh Says:

    hmmm… it’s tough to say because the offense has been anemic as you mentioned in many of his starts. the sad thing is that he’s not getting any younger and if you noticed this year his fastball has lost about 2-4MPH.

    as a Met fan I’m not overly concerned about that since he’s a smart enough pitcher to utilize other things to get batters out. my major worry is if Johan will have a solid offense to back him in the latter years of his prime.

  2. sportsphd Says:

    I would hope the surgery will help those MPH come back as well. I would not bet on the offense, though.

  3. verdun Says:

    How much of the Mets offensive struggles is the new park? I know about the injuries and about age questions for Delgado, but it’s also a new park and that may account for some of the offensive woes. Just a thought.

  4. sportsphd Says:

    Citi Field had a park factor of .943 this year, meaning that it certainly depressed hitter’s stats. That does not explain why it depressed Mets’ hitters more than their opponents, though. The Mets have a lot of problems to work through; having seen several of their AAA affiliate’s games, their isn’t a lot of help coming anytime soon.

  5. sportsphd Says:

    Ryno –

    Your explanation makes decent sense. Since the option they just picked up was for 2011, not 2010, it is substantially harder to justify based solely on Cuddyer’s production. If Cuddyer helps them retain Mauer, he is automatically more valuable.

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