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Mets, Santana making progress

The New York Mets and Johan Santana's agent are making progress on a multi-year contract that's likely to guarantee him about $150 million, according to people familiar with the talks. With Friday's 5 p.m. ET deadline approaching, the sides are believed to be more than $20 million apart, but high-ranking baseball people believe the deal is all but certain to get done.

One person with knowledge of the talks pegged a recent Mets offer at about $21.5 million per year over six years on top of the $13.25 million salary Santana's already guaranteed for 2008, bringing the total package to $142.25 million.

It is believed Santana has been seeking a deal closer to $170 million total. The Mets had been hopeful to lure Santana with a five-year offer but Santana's side gained significant leverage after the Mets made what is seen as a favorable trade to acquire him.

Baseball people believe they can't fail to sign him. "It has to get done," one baseball executive said.

Said another exec, "The Mets can't walk away."

Any new deal for Santana was expected to set a record for pitchers, surpassing the seven-year, $126 million contract Barry Zito got from the San Francisco Giants last offseason.

New York has the resources to offer such a salary. The Mets drew 3.85 million fans last season, they have their own regional sports network and plan to move into a new ballpark in 2009. Still, the team would undoubtedly like to avoid going over the luxury threshold this year.

For purposes of the luxury tax, the Mets' payroll stands at $114.2 million for 20 signed players, including $10 million in benefits. Add in midpoints for the four players remaining in arbitration, and it's up to $125.1 million.

Figuring in the addition of Santana at more than $20 million, several players making close to the minimum $390,000 and 10 or so on option to the minor leagues, and the Mets' payroll will approach the $155 million luxury tax threshold this year.

Last year, only the Yankees ($207.7 million) and Boston Red Sox ($163.2 million) were over the luxury tax threshold. For the tax, payrolls are calculated using average annual values.

As for regular payroll, the Mets are at $107.7 million. The payroll increases to $118.7 million when adding in the arbitration players at their midpoints.

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