For the record, I like Johan Santana. I used to cheer for him when he was with the Twins, assuming he wasn’t facing the Yankees. Despite that, however, I find myself rooting against him now more than perhaps any other Mets player and the only real reason for that is I don’t want to hear anymore about how the Yankees should have traded for him. I like having Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera (and Ian Kennedy for that matter). I like CC Sabathia (who the Yanks would not have signed if they traded for Johan).
The bottom line always was, you don’t trade away talent for a player to then simply sign him to a market value, free-agent contract. That doesn’t make economic sense.
So did the Mets make a good move? Kinda. They didn’t give up all that much talent and they probably felt that if Santana did hit the open market, they wouldn’t get him. But I actually don’t think that would have been the case.
Let’s pretend for a minute that Johan was not traded and was a free agent last year along with CC, AJ, Lowe and everyone else. We know the Yanks would be after CC. Who would trump the Mets’ $140 million offer to Johan? The Angels maybe? I really think the Mets would have signed him anyways. But the Mets didn’t give up all that much young talent, so it’s probably not a big deal either way.
But if the Yanks had given up Hughes, Melky, etc? And then didn’t have CC (who, ironically, could have ended up with the Mets)? The 2009 Yankees would, unequivically, be a weaker team.
The other reason why I didn’t want the Yankees to trade for Santana was on display yesterday. I don’t know that he has the stuff anymore to routinely dominate the AL East. He still has that crazy changeup and that should ensure he is a productive pitcher in the NL for a number of years (another reason why the trade was more low-risk for the Mets). But without that mid-90s fastball, will he be able to dominate deep and patient lineups? If yesterday’s game tells us anything, the answer is not consistently.