Johan Santana, who became a free agent this offseason after six years with the Mets, signed with the Baltimore Orioles Tuesday. A return to prominence for Johan – as unlikely as it is – would’ve been nice to see in a Mets uniform. However, the Mets allowing him to sign elsewhere was prudent.
The Orioles gave Santana a minor league deal worth $3 million, and the 34 year old has the potential to earn a shade over $5 million more if he reaches all the incentives in his contract.
Santana is recovering from his second major shoulder surgery, and reportedly sat between 77 and 78 MPH (topping out at 81 MPH) with his fastball during a recent showcase for seven interested teams. According to reports, Santana is targeting June for his return to the majors.
Johan Santana arrived in Queens in 2008, and most felt that he would put the Mets over the top. Through no fault of his own, that didn’t happen.
Santana was an absolute warrior on the mound during his time with the Mets, and aside from being highly productive when healthy, he’ll be remembered for two incredible performances: Game 161 in 2008 and the no-hitter (the first and only in franchise history) he tossed on June 1st, 2012.
In Game 161 in 2008, Santana spun a complete game shutout while pitching with a torn meniscus in his knee. It kept the Mets’ playoff hopes alive, and was the last game the Mets won before Shea Stadium closed down.
Then, Santana threw the first no hitter in Mets history shortly after returning from major shoulder surgery.
While Santana re-upping with the Mets and helping to lead them back to prominence would’ve been a storybook ending, it simply wasn’t in the cards.
The odds of Santana returning to even league average production are being portrayed by many observers as unlikely. Add to that the Mets’ solid pitching depth, and handing Santana $3 million guaranteed to be eighth or ninth on the depth chart would’ve been counterproductive.
However, that doesn’t lessen what Johan accomplished with the Mets, or how much the fans revered him. Johan’s time in New York won’t be forgotten, and all of us at Rising Apple wish him the best of luck in Baltimore.