July 6, 2012; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana (57) reacts to giving up a home run as Chicago Cubs batter Reed Johnson (5) rounds third base during the first inning of a game at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Saunders Wants Three Years; Will 2013 Be Johan's Last in Flushing?

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The free agent pitching market has shrunk a little more this weekend, although no one has agreed to sign with a team. Ken Rosenthal tweeted yesterday that the Mariners have a desperate need for a hitter, but are also scouring the free agent market. In his tweet, he said that Kyle Loshe would be too pricey for them, and Joe Saunders wants three years.

Hearing that is not surprising to me, as we found out Saunders is already sitting on a couple two-year offers, which obviously means he’s waiting for a team to take the plunge and add a third year. The Mets were rumored to be interested in pitchers like him, Carl Pavano, and Shaun Marcum, but haven’t been linked to Saunders since the initial report because of his desire to get a multi-year deal. As if that didn’t steer them away enough, the news of him wanting an additional year will keep Sandy Alderson at a distance, especially when Pavano, Marcum, and Chris Young will all likely take a one-year incentive-laden deal.

To stay on the pitching side of things, Mitch Petanick of Metsmerized Online wrote an article Friday stating the case for the Mets to give free agent hurler and former Atlanta Brave Jair Jurrjensa shot at the rotation.

New York and Omar Quintanilla agreed to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training on Thursday night, but the team officially announced the reunion yesterday afternoon.

Also on Thursday, we found out the Wilpons were successfully able to borrow a large chunk of money against SportsNet New York, aiding them in financing day-to-day operations, meaning they will be able to remain the owners of the Mets for the forseeable future. First the number was reported at $450 million, then it was later revealed that number was $700 million, which gives them an infusion of about $160 million.

Richard Sandomir of the New York Times laid out some possible scenarios for the Wilpons to use this money they just received. The most obvious ones are paying down some big bank debt they have, or save it in case they endure future financial losses again. However, Sandomir notes New York could use that money to sign a free agent, particularly looking at Michael Bourn, as his price drops with each day that passes.

A consultant to numerous MLB teams, Vince Gennaro suggested the Mets should seriously consider Bourn, because it would instantly increase the immediate competiveness of the team, and show the fans the organization does want to win. Bourn is left-handed, but he’s a tremendous defensive outfielder with great speed, and a proven lead0ff hitter, which would give New York exactly what they need. However, I’m not convinced ownership would allow Alderson to sign him to a long-term deal, while bringing him in and paying him a lot of money for one year just to lose him next winter wouldn’t make much sense, either.

I would love the Wilpons to swallow their pride and sell the team, but that doesn’t mean I don’t believe the Mets will not be a winning team again while they’re in control. It is truly annoying to see the Wilpons do what they’ve done to our favorite team, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the players to rise up and perform. We’re at least seeing the vision of the franchise moving in the right direction, and I do feel that the small signings they’ve made will help in 2013 (at least, that’s what I’m hoping).

On Friday, news broke that it’s unlikely Johan Santana will remain with the Mets past the 2013 season, which is the last guaranteed season on the six-year/$137.5 million extension he signed to complete the blockbuster trade with the Twins in 2008. While this makes me sad because I’m a huge fan of Johan, I’m not surprised in the slightest. Since Alderson became GM, he talked about 2014 being an important year for the franchise because both Santana’s and Bay’s contracts would be coming off the books, which accounts for about half of their current payroll. Johan will be receiving $31 million next season ($25.5 salary, $5.5 million buyout), and Alderson will likely be looking to unload him to a contender if he can prove himself healthy in the first half.

New York would undoubtedly have to eat most of his salary in any potential trade to truly entice a team in need of starting pitching, but if he’s effective enough, he could draw plenty of interest on the open market. Santana is expected to be the anchor of the Mets starting rotation in 2013 now that R.A. Dickey is in Toronto, and if he performs the way I expect him to, teams will certainly come calling to inquire about his services.

The wild card of it all will be whether or not the Mets will be competitive by next July. No one expected them to start the season 46-40 last year, so it’s not crazy to think Terry Collins could jumpstart them to exceed expectations once again. If that happens and Santana is drawing interest from other teams, does Alderson deal him? Unless the package is similar to the one he received in the Dickey deal, fans would be furious to see him trade away another ace if the team is in playoff contention, especially when New York is expected to pay the majority of his salary. It will be an interesting situation to watch play out, as it could end up mirroring the Carlos Beltran trade for Zack Wheeler.

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Tags: Joe Saunders Johan Santana New York Mets Omar Quintanilla

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