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.

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.
  1. Ny_mets_esp March 5, 2013 at 6:16 am
    Tough question. Mets fans have accepted that Johan will be gone after the season and the organization would bring Wheeler up and have a rotation full of young arms (plus spending a lot of money in free agent signings). So, having all that changed would be difficult.
    However, if he´s helathy enough to pitch 215 innings (or good enough to win the Cy Young) it would be nice to have him back as the veteran member of the rotation.
    • Izzy March 5, 2013 at 6:31 am
      Then they could trade him and the MET fraud machine, whoops that was PR machine would tell us it was to provide Liarson, whoops that was Alderson with spending flexibility in 2015 or so.
  2. Dan42 March 5, 2013 at 6:42 am
    His full no trade clause would make things even more difficult, if he’s on his way to 215. The market will be limited by that as well as a new team’s willingness to overpay next year, unless the Wilpons go into panic mode if 215 looks possible. The best scenario would be for him to be pitching not quite good enough to reach those goals, and trading him to a contender, possibly willing to offer him enough for next year to waive the clause. But I doubt that will happen unless the Mets eat a good part of his contract.
  3. Tommy2cat March 5, 2013 at 7:14 am
    If the Mets (Wilpons) would allow Reyes to walk to save money, how could one even contemplate them allowing Santana to achieve a performance incentive that will cost them an additional 25m?

    Put it this way: d’Arnaud & Wheeler have a better chance at joining with the parent club at the beginning of the season as Johan does remaining with the parent club at the end of the season, which is none.

    It’s all about the Benjamins.

  4. Dan B March 5, 2013 at 8:32 am
    What if Marlon Byrd wins the MVP? Will the Mets resign him to big bucks or let him walk? If I win Powerball, how will I pay the taxes?
  5. Dan B March 5, 2013 at 8:49 am
    What if Santana pitches 170 innings, goes 12-9, 4.15 era, and is the Met’s second or third best pitcher? Do they resign him to a more reasonable contract? That is the more believable scenario. (Still think there would be no way Santana pitches for Mets in 2014)
  6. Walnutz15 March 5, 2013 at 9:27 am
    “However, could Santana complete 215 innings in 2013?”

    …..chuckles

  7. Joe Janish March 5, 2013 at 9:37 am
    I just read that Santana threw a “voluntary” bullpen session — purportedly, to prove he is in shape.

    Or is he hell-bent on making the Opening Day start, knowing that he needs to make every start possible to reach 215 innings?

    Most realistic people agree that there’s no way Johan gets past 180 innings this year, but don’t you think Johan believes he can get to 215? And assuming he does, he’s not going to give up any start. He’s good enough at math to know that starting in 32 games instead of 33 could be the difference between making $25M and begging for a job next winter.

  8. AC Wayne March 5, 2013 at 9:39 am
    I agree with you Dan B, the Mets have already begun to lay the ground work for his dismissal with Collin’s tongue-and-cheek “where’s my 25-million-dollar-pitcher” and the latest Santana-gate, or chicken-and-egg routine where Alderson’s public displeasure to the NY media of Santana’s pre-ST prep causes the left-hander to hop on a mound ten days earlier than scheduled to prove he’s fit to be the Mets Opening Day starter, is it just me or does this stink of K-Rod back in 2011 when they failed to show the list of teams that he didn’t want to be traded to when they shipped him off to the Brewers to avoid a daunting player option
  9. DaveSchneck March 5, 2013 at 10:49 am
    Joe,
    IMHO, if Santana was start off the season and throw 23 consecutive complete game no hitters (I think my math is ok), there is still no way this administration/ownership would allow him to get to 215 innings pitched.
  10. J March 5, 2013 at 11:07 am
    Stranger things have happened, I mean a knuckleballer did win the Cy Young.

    Santana does have enough gas in the tank to do it, but I wouldn’t bet he wins a Cy Young or gets to 215 innings.

    As I said on another site back in December, we’re not rid of Santana yet, and we actually might want to root against our supposed opening day starter have his best season as a Met. Weird.

  11. Joe March 5, 2013 at 4:16 pm
    As others note, a lot of long-shots among those options.

    Collin McHugh has a good thing on his blog about humility. Nothing about pitching for the Mets though. More likely he starts off in the rotation than any of those things happening.

    Not seeing a chance in hell that they pay him full price for next season. Them going .500 is probably more likely than him coming back at all. I recall concerns from the pessimistic his injuries would make the contract iffy and they turned out. Better than some others, admittedly. Remember the four year deal for Appier?

  12. Robb March 6, 2013 at 9:06 am
    I can’t wait to turn the page on the last of Omar’s slugs. Bye bye Johan, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
    Lets Go Mets!
  13. Warren March 6, 2013 at 9:59 am
    Hey Joe, what’s happened to you? All of a sudden, with this column and the one about the Mets being subpar at most positions (as if we didn’t already know that!), all of a sudden you’re getting sensationalist instead of being the usual down to earth blogger that we so appreciate. You KNOW there’s no chance of Santana going for 215, so it’s really much ado about nothing.

    Warren

    • Joe Janish March 8, 2013 at 6:48 pm
      Warren, first off, I wasn’t the author of the positions post. Though, I did find it a good conversation starter (as evidenced by the nearly 50 comments) and to me the main purpose of this blog is to share discussion with each other.

      Second, I don’t think the possibility of Santana pitching 215 innings and having the option kick in is sensational. Personally, I don’t believe there is any chance in heck he pitches more than 150 innings, BUT I’ve spoken to, and read pieces by, Mets fans who sincerely believe that Santana can make 32 starts and be a valuable pitcher in 2013. Since there are enough people thinking this, I felt it was plausible to post the possibility.

      Further, I absolutely, positively believe that Santana believes he can hurl 215 innings — and THAT’S really the crux of this post. If Santana is shooting for 215, he likely is pushing himself to be in shape by Opening Day, and determined not to miss any opportunities for starts thereafter. And if that’s the case, there’s a chance he pushes himself too hard and winds up hurting himself earlier than if he took his time and limited his innings.

      • Warren March 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm
        Dear Joe, I appreciate your reply. I guess the Met fans I know here in Central NJ are living in a different world, b/c no one believes that’s going to happen. Thank you for all the work on your blog, it’s greatly appreciated!
        • Joe Janish March 10, 2013 at 12:16 am
          Warren — thank YOU for continuing to visit the blog and contributing to the conversation.

          Most of the more realistic, objective people I know agree with your friends in Central Jersey. But, again, I have heard and seen more optimistic views.

          After today’s news, I’m now wondering if Santana will pitch AT ALL in 2013.

  14. Al Luplow March 8, 2013 at 6:14 pm
    I am a Santana fan, and believe he is still capable of having a good year. But he is less like to pitch every 5th day, never missing a start, and essentially going 7 innings every time out than Joe Janish is to win a Pulitzer.