The Mets agreed to send young outfielder Carlos Gomez plus pitching prospects Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra to Minnesota, providing they can lock up the two-time Cy Young award-winning Santana to a multiyear deal and he waives his no-trade veto powers.
The Mets now have a 72-hour window -- until 5 p.m. ET Friday -- to try to negotiate a long-term deal with Santana. People familiar with the Mets' thinking say they'd like to keep it to a five-year contract, while Santana is believed to be seeking a deal for six or seven years at more than $20 million per year. However, there appears to be optimism that a contract can be agreed to, possibly by giving Santana a high annual salary.
At the annual Baseball Assistance Team fundraising dinner Tuesday night in New York, Mets GM Omar Minaya wouldn't say much.
"It's out there, but the bottom line is that we're trying to look at ways at improving our club," Minaya told The Associated Press. "That's all I'm going to be able to say about it right now."
Santana is to make $13.25 million in 2008, as provided in his Twins contract, and might be amenable to a five-year extension on top of that, should the money be right. If the Mets add five years at $24 million a year, that would bring Santana's total package to $133 million, which is more than Barry Zito's record $126-million deal.
Santana is 93-44 with a 3.22 ERA in eight major league seasons, winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2004 and 2006. He has been less successful in the playoffs, going 1-3 with a 3.97 ERA.
The Mets have been desperately seeking a No. 1 pitcher. The acquisition of Santana would give them that, and also a reason to forget the team's memorable collapse in 2007. With Santana, the Mets would have a projected rotation that also includes Pedro Martinez, John Maine, Orlando Hernandez and Oliver Perez.
"They have to sign him,'' one competing executive said. "How can they not sign him?''
The Mets' proposal included their Nos. 2, 3, 4 and 7 prospects, according to BaseballAmerica's ranking. The Twins had been pressing the Mets to include a second top outfield prospect, Fernando Martinez, but the Mets held the line. The teams also discussed possibly substituting reliever Jorge Sosa for Humber in recent days.
Speaking of the ultimate agreement, one competing executive said, "That's great for the Mets. The Twins got some upside guys. It's a scout's deal. The scouts are projecting on those guys.''
Twins scout Joe McIlvaine is a former Mets executive who has closely followed his former team. While the Twins originally wanted shortstop Jose Reyes in the deal, one person familiar with Minnesota's thinking said, "McIlvaine was high on the Mets prospects.''
Gomez is viewed as a potential star who is unproven as a hitter. Guerra is another who could be a star but he projects to pitch at Double-A next year. Mulvey and Humber could reach the majors this year but are seen as middle-of-the-rotation types.
It has been believed that Santana had no objection to being traded to New York. He rejected a four-year proposal for $80 million from the Twins at the start of the offseason. The Mets have an excellent relationship with Santana's agents, Peter and Ed Greenberg.
The Twins also weighed offers from the Boston Red Sox, who had proposed two months ago a deal to send pitcher Jon Lester, outfielder Coco Crisp, pitching prospect Justin Masterson and infield prospect Jed Lowrie for Santana, and another that included outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury but not Lester. It is believed Boston never changed its offer for two months.
The Twins had stopped talking to the Yankees after they pulled top pitching prospect Phil Hughes off the table but checked back in Tuesday to see whether the Yankees intended to be players; they did not. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did not want to surrender Hughes and also pay the dollars it would take to sign Santana.
Details of the trade were first reported by USA Today.