Mets decline $25 million option on Santana

RONALD BLUM (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press
Mets decline $25 million option on Santana
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In this March 1, 2013, photo, New York Mets starting pitcher Johan Santana throws while working out before the Mets' spring training baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Mets say Santana has injured his left shoulder again and likely will need surgery and miss the 2013 season. The two-time Cy Young Award winner missed the 2011 season following shoulder surgery in September 2010, then returned last year and pitched the first no-hitter in the team's history. He hasn't pitched in an exhibition game this year because of arm weakness. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Johan Santana, twice a Cy Young Award winner and the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter in Mets history, is now a free agent.

The Mets declined a $25 million option on the injured pitcher Friday and will pay the left-hander a $5.5 million buyout. It is not clear whether the Mets will attempt to sign him to a low-risk deal and bring him to spring training.

Santana, who turns 35 on March 13, won the 2004 and 2006 AL Cy Young Awards with Minnesota. But he went 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA while with the Mets, missing the 2011 and 2013 seasons because of shoulder injuries. Santana has a 139-78 record with a 3.20 ERA in 12 big seasons.

Friday's decision completes a $137.5 million, six-year contract that was agreed to before the 2008 season and makes Santana a free agent. The buyout is payable at 1.25 percent interest in six equal installments on June 30 each year from 2015-20.

Santana had surgery Sept. 14, 2010, to repair tears in the front and bottom of his left shoulder's anterior capsule and did not make it back to the major leagues until April 5, 2012. He rebounded to pitch the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, 2012, against St. Louis, throwing a career-high 134 pitches, then went 3-7 with an 8.27 ERA and cut his season short because of lower back inflammation.

When he arrived at spring training this year, his pitching shoulder was weak, and a new injury was discovered. He had surgery April 2 for a tear in the capsule in the front of his left shoulder.