The Mets are in trouble.
They’re being sued for $1 billion. They are trying to sell part of the team just to cover their expenses. They took out a $25 million loan back in November, and are asking for another one worth at least $10 million now.
The team hasn’t improved much, if at all, this offseason. Despite having a beautiful new stadium, they will be playing in front of a lot of empty seats.
To say their finances are in bad shape is an understatement. They insist that their off-the-field troubles won’t affect their on-the-field issues, but that’s not the case with teams that need multiple loans just to stay afloat during the offseason.
It seems ever more likely that the Wilpon family will eventually need to sell the team. They may even have to hold a fire sale just to stay afloat before then.
This brings us to Johan Santana.
If the Mets are going to dump some of their more expensive pieces, Santana fits the bill pretty well. The problem is that he is recovering from a shoulder surgery that ended his 2010 season.
Before they can deal him, Santana will have to prove he is healthy. Otherwise, no other team will want him.
Even if he pitches in a game or two, there is likely to be some performance drop-off due to the surgery. Even if there isn’t, questions will not be answered about his shoulder. This could make him a cheap option, in that he wouldn’t cost a lot of draft picks to obtain. But he would still cost a bundle in salary, as he’s owed $72 million over the next three years.
The salary issue makes any trade rather tricky. If the Mets are looking to move him, they’re going to try to get rid of as much of his salary as possible.
If the Yankees are interested in him, they probably wouldn’t have to deal much to get him. But the issue will be how much of his salary they take on. A lot of Yankees fans have a head-in-the-sand, "it’s not my money" mentality, but in this instance, taking on as much as $72 million for a pitcher coming off shoulder issues would severely limit their financial flexibility if it didn’t work out.
The way the two sides would have to work out a deal, Santana would have to come back and pitch well enough to justify a sizable financial risk for the Yankees.
In addition, the Mets might also have to swallow a chunk of Santana’s salary so the Yankees aren’t forced to carry the full $72 million. Only if the Mets ate an exceptionally big chunk would the Yankees have to include any prospects of real value.
This might sound like a pretty easy and straightforward deal, but it isn’t.
Both sides are going to come to the table with totally different ideas of how to negotiate his salary. Another idea to consider is that the Yankees and the Mets don't trade much, or at all. The last trade between these two teams was in 2004, when Mike Statanton was sent back to the Yankees for Felix Heredia.
They haven’t so much as negotiated on a possible deal since then.
So, while it is a possibility that a deal could be worked out between the two sides, it would be extremely complicated, and both sides would have to be motivated to do it. The Mets will have to be desperate to move payroll, and the Yankees must be desperate to acquire another starter.
Even if those are the conditions, a deal still might not get done. We are, after all, talking about a pitcher coming off of shoulder surgery who might not be much better than Freddy Garcia once he returns to the mound.
What do you think? Would you trust a post shoulder surgery Santana? How much of his salary would the Mets have to eat? Could the two sides even work out a deal?