The big sports news of the day isn't the Super Bowl. It's the probable Johan Santana trade that the Mets and Twins agreed to yesterday. And from the reaction of the local papers and sportswriters, it seems like the Mets pulled a fast one on the rubes from Minnesota. If the Mets can sign Santana to a contract extension, it's likely that he will become the highest paid pitcher in baseball, surpassing Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants. It's believed that Santana and his agent Peter Greenberg are looking for a 6 or 7-year deal in the range of $20-25 million per year.
Popular opinion isn't always right, of course. There's some concern about Santana's health after going 2-4 with a 5.11 ERA in his last seven starts. He ended the season with a 15-13 record and a 3.33 ERA. That's an off-year for Santana. Those questions will be answered with a physical before the trade can go through.
The trade makes the Mets the "Beast of the East" according to The Post, but Peter Gammons of ESPN says the trade takes the Mets "from being a very good team to a World Series Contender." And by acquiring Santana, Omar Minaya almost erases the memories of that epic collapse last year and at least gets Mets fans excited for the coming season (pitchers and catchers in a little more than two weeks!). Newsday says that the Mets owe the Yankees an assist on the trade, with Brian Cashman keeping Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. If the Yankees get an assist, so does the Red Sox' young rotation, making Santana all but unnecessary - if a two time Cy Young Winner can be "unnecessary."
Who did the Mets trade away? Players with potential, but nobody that will be as good as Santana is. Jim Callis of Baseball America told The Times, "There’s no can’t-miss guy here. If [Deolis] Guerra became everything he could be, and [Carlos] Gómez became everything he could be, then it could be a pretty good deal." The Times also considers Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey as, at best, number three and four starters. Baseball America rates the four players traded as prospects number 2 (Guerra), 3 (Gomez), 4 (Mulvey) and 7 (Humber) in the Mets farm system. Despite giving up those prospects, they managed to keep #1 prospect Fernando Martinez, an outfielder, and Mike Pelfrey.
The last time the Mets made a big trade with the Twins, they picked up Frank Viola. Of course, the three players the Mets traded in that deal went on to win the 1991 World Series with the Twins.
Assuming all goes well, which it really should, Johan Santana will be an official member of the Mets by 5 p.m. Friday, the end of the 72-hour window that MLB gave the Mets and Santana to work out that pesky contract extension.