Good Trade? Bad Trade?: Mets Shell Out Big Bucks for Johan Santana

Brandon HeikoopSenior Analyst IFebruary 1, 2008

I understand that the Mets will always have the financial resources.  But when they are locking up $70-75M in three players (Wright, Reyes, Santana) how high can the team still manage to turn a profit?

The Yankees are said to  have lost money in recent seasons despite being far and away the best earners in baseball.  Even the Red Sox, who have one of baseball's biggest markets with DiceK aboard, have a limit.

So yes, the Mets can probably get up to $150-170M, but that stunts the potential profitability of the club, which is the REAL name of the game for these owners.

That said, let's get back to the $70-75M spent on three players.  The team still needs to fill another 22 slots on their roster.  Given that they have NO ONE in the minors, they will essentially be paying market cost—about $3M per true win (a 95-win team made up of free agent players would cost $285M).

Let's say the team brings in just seven such players at about three wins apiece: that's $63M.  Filling just half their roster, the Mets have already spent $130M.

Again, the smart financial operation is to "go young."  The Sox are paying  Manny a premium while Papi is making a pittance.  Beckett is still relatively cheap.  Crisp, Drew, Lowell, etc. are not making premiums for their positions—still, their salaries are in line with their abilities.

Even DiceK, whose international revenues are said to make up most of—if not all of—his signing bonus, is relatively inexpensive.  Thus, while the team is spending, they also have a great deal of young, cheap talent.

The Yankees are evidence of what comes of trying to buy a World Series
(last WS in 2000).

Cashman has learned from this and so is resolved that Cano, Hughes, and Chamberlain are untouchable.  He knows that if the club is going to have any success, the homegrown talent that carried the team in the mid-90s (Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera) needs to be duplicated.

In any event, this deal was good for the Mets.  Although I believe that in three to five years we are going to be looking back at this wondering why the Mets spent so much on two average players (a stud pitcher posting Santana-like numbers at a 20th of the cost, and a top of the order near all star OFer).

Still, for the next two years or so it will look like the Mets stole from the junior circuit, and Santana's salary over that time (about $15M a year) will be an incredible bargain.

Oh and Mr. Rosenthal, I know it's your job to report rumors and speculation, but please do not claim that alleged offers are factual unless you are willing to put your reputation on the line.

Also, who is to say that the Twins are better off without one bona fide sure thing? 

Too much in baseball is unpredictable.  Securing four solid players outweighs the haul comprised of one sure thing and three chumps.