Johan Santana’s 2014 Option Could Kick In

While bantering in yesterday’s comments and researching, it was discovered that there is a possibility Johan Santana‘s $25M option for 2014 could kick in automatically.

According to Cot’s Contracts, the “club option” in Johan Santana’s contract becomes a “player option” if Santana:

  1. wins Cy Young award from 2008-13 and finishes second or third in the Cy Young vote in one other season
  2. ranks second or third in Cy Young vote in any 3 seasons, 2008-13
  3. is on the active roster for the final 30 days of 2013 season, and:
  • pitches 215 innings in 2013, or
  • pitches 420 innings in 2012-13, or
  • pitches 630 innings in 2011-13

The second possibility is moot, as Santana has finished in the top three of the Cy Young voting only once — he was third in 2008. The first possibility could, technically, happen, though the odds are long that Santana will win the Cy Young in 2013. It’s that third scenario where there is a modicum of attainability (though, again, the odds are long).

Since Santana hurled only 117 innings last year, and none in 2011, getting to 630 from 2011-2013 is impossible and 420 between 2012 and 2013 is similarly unfathomable. However, could Santana complete 215 innings in 2013?

The optimistic Mets fan envisions Santana making 30-33 starts this year and helping the team toward a postseason appearance. If indeed the veteran lefty can make 33 starts and average 6.5 innings per start, he’ll hit 215. Can he do that?

For comparison, last year, R.A. Dickey made 33 starts and one relief appearance, tossing 233.2 innings.

Personally, I think it’s a stretch to believe Santana will pitch 150 innings in 2013 — but I’m more pessimistic than typical Mets fans. But what if Santana has that bounce-back year he needs to have for the Mets to play “meaningful games in September,” and lurches toward the 215-inning mark in one of those meaningful games? Will Terry Collins pull him out of games an inning early? Perhaps more intriguing: will Santana push himself to squeeze out an extra inning from his first start, and through every succeeding start through the rest of the year? And by doing so, could Santana hurt himself earlier than if he consistently exited a game an inning early?

Even though Johan Santana has made a mint in his Mets career, a $25M payday is an enormous carrot to chase. You have to figure that the option is somewhere in Santana’s mind — if not the front, at least the back. How much will those 215 innings play into the way Santana conducts himself, and the way the Mets handle him?

Before you get mad at Omar Minaya for putting this option into Santana’s contract, consider that it’s not a terrible detail. The assumption was that if Santana could still pitch into the seventh inning every start, he’d likely still have considerable value. And what if Santana does find a way to finish 215 innings — heck, what if he wins the Cy Young? Wouldn’t a Mets fan want to see him return in 2014? Certainly, a Mets fan wouldn’t want to see Cy Young Award winners leave the team in consecutive seasons, without getting anything other than a draft pick in return for the second winner — would they?

What do you think? Is there any chance that Johan Santana pitches 215 innings? Do you want to see him do so? If he does, will you be happy he’s returning in 2014? And if by some miracle Santana does meet the quota and kick in the $25M payday for 2014, how will that affect the Mets’ plan to spend money like bored Long Island housewives next winter?

Answer in the comments.

2013 Spring Training

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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