The Mets and superstar pitcher Johan Santana have agreed on a record multiyear contract for a pitcher -- a deal that could be worth $150.75 million -- to complete his blockbuster trade to New York. The deal now is only contingent upon a physical, which is scheduled for Saturday.
The contract negotiated over three days guarantees the two-time Cy Young Award winner $137.5 million for six years and is very likely to escalate to $150.75 million for seven. The arrangement includes an $18.75 million option for 2014 with a $5.5 million buyout,
The sides worked out this multiyear agreement to satisfy the team, which sent four young prospects to Minnesota to obtain Santana. The arrangement also satisfies the pitcher, who agreed to waive his no-trade clause. The acquisition solidifies the Mets rotation, giving them the ace they needed and establishing them as the team to beat in the National League.
The trade for Santana was widely hailed in New York, as the Mets surrendered no players who were expected to significantly contribute to their 2008 team: outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitching prospects Kevin Mulvey, Phil Humber and Deolis Guerra. But that consistently praised trade put extra pressure on the team to sign the two-time Cy Young winner.
Assuming the final year of Santana's contract is picked up, the average annual value of the whole contract will be about $21.5 million, easily a record for a multiyear deal for a pitcher. Not counting the first year, the deal is worth nearly $23 million a year.
The previous record for a pitcher was Barry Zito's seven-year, $126 million deal signed last winter with the San Francisco Giants.
The negotiations didn't go easily. But the threat of a breakdown never seemed serious since the teaming of Santana and the Mets was a natural for both sides.
The Mets requested and received a two-hour extension beyond the original 5 p.m. ET deadline, a strong sign things were finally coming to a conclusion. Santana, the No. 1 starter the Mets needed, talked to Mets owner Jeff Wilpon in the final stage of the drawn-out, 74-hour negotiation.
The Mets announced sometime after 6:30 p.m. only that they had completed negotiations and had scheduled a physical.
The Mets had been trying to keep the deal to five guaranteed years, but in the end the extension was for six years. Santana had sought more than $170 million at the start of negotiations.
It is believed the players union were pressing Santana's agents, Peter and Ed Greenberg, to beat the $150 million threshold, as Santana is setting the standard for pitchers and will likely affect the salaries of other top-of-the-line starters.
Santana had a year remaining on his Twins contract at $13.25 million, so in effect the Mets only added five guaranteed years. The Mets had been hoping to keep the total compensation below $150 million and could accomplish that if his option is not exercised. The Greenbergs originally signed a deal for at least $170 million, but while they settled, they settled for a record.