With the news yesterday that his time with the New York Mets is officially over, Johan Santana will look to continue his rehab in hopes of a return to the majors elsewhere. He leaves behind a team also looking to rehab its roster back into form. Leading up to the 2008 season, the Mets traded for the once dominant pitcher, immediately extending his contract and paying him in excess of $130 million over the next six years.
Santana was brought in to be the final piece of the puzzle, to get the Mets back into the post season and hopefully back to the World Series. Things often don't go as planned. The Mets never reached the post season during Santana's tenure in New York. In fact, they finished higher than third place in the division on just one occasion. That one instance was Santana's first year in Queens, his best season in Queens. A season that saw him go 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA. From there however things started to fade.
Santana would go on to start 88 games in the first three years of his contract. A pair of severe shoulder injuries would limit him to just 21 starts over the remainder of his deal. Brought in to be the answer, Santana's contract would soon become an anchor. Topping out of $25.5 million in 2013, a season that never saw Santana toe the rubber, his deal ultimately limited the Mets financially and delayed the rebuilding process.
Despite being a fierce competitor and an outspoken leader, Santana's time in Queens was likely saved by his 2012 no-hitter at Citi Field. That moment, the first for the Mets in their fifty years of existence at the time will live on forever. While that's something that can ever be taken away from Santana, is it enough to deem his time in Queens a success? Santana doesn't depart as some jaded warrior. A victim to his own shoulder, Santana worked his way back in 2012 but wasn't the same pitcher. He battled as he always did when he didn't have his best stuff, but when he reached back for the goods they were nowhere to be found.
Right or wrong, it will be Santana's deal that sees the Mets steer clear of big-time pitchers on long-term contracts for the foreseeable future. Minus the no-hitter, his unfortunate legacy will be his bloated contract, highlighted by injuries, rather than the excitement his arrival brought. With more than $130 million spent, the Mets received just46 wins in 109 starts and 717 innings pitched over six years. So I ask you, aside from just one all-star appearance and of course his no-hitter, was Johan Santana a bust with the Mets?
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