Back in 2010 when he tore an anterior capsule in his left shoulder, Johan Santana probably wasn't sure if he would ever be the same Cy Young Award-caliber kind of pitcher again. After surgery and more than a year of rehab, he made it back to the majors in 2012 and, while his overall results weren't great, he did pitch the first no-hitter in New York Mets history in June. He called it the greatest feeling he ever had.
At 34 years old, Santana now has to ask himself: Does he have the will to make another comeback from the same injury?
Mets GM Sandy Alderson said Thursday that an MRI on Santana's ailing left shoulder revealed a "probable" re-tear of his shoulder capsule. If he has surgery, Santana would miss at least a year. The Mets owe Santana $25 million this season and $25 million more in 2014, but have the luxury of a buyout clause that would save them $19.5 million if they so choose. The Mets did not insure Santana's $137.5 million contract, signed back in 2008, to save money on expensive premiums — a route many major league teams have taken in recent years.
Even though the Mets gave slugger David Wright a big contract extension earlier in the offseason, that was done to shore up the longterm health of the club; they were not likely to contend in the NL East this season, even if Santana were healthy. He could have been a trade chip, possibly, though at his salary, the Mets would have eaten a lot of the money anyway.
And Santana going down shouldn't effect the impending promotion of right-hander Zack Wheeler from the minors. He'll be along in due time.
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Unless he invested with the Wilpons, Santana probably has more money than he'll ever need. He's not a future Hall of Famer at this rate, but he's racked up some impressive accomplishments in baseball, including two Cy Youngs with the Minnesota Twins. Three ERA titles. Three strikeout titles. Nearly 2,000 strikeouts. It's been a great career. And it might be over.
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