Remembering the Johan Santana Trade

On this date, seven years ago, the New York Mets made one of the most significant trades in team history.

February 2nd, 2008 was the day the Mets acquired Johan Santana from the Minnesota Twins. Santana was a perennial All-Star, two time Cy Young Award winner, and one of the best players in baseball. In return, the Mets sent Carlos Gomez, who was one of the top prospects in baseball, Phil Humber, who was the Mets’ top pitching prospect, as well as Deolis Guerra and Kevin Mulvey, two nice, lower-level prospects.

Santana then signed a 6-year $137.5 million contract to stay in New York long-term. This deal didn’t turn out as expected on either side, for both good and bad reasons. Let’s take a look back at this trade seven years later.

Who the Mets Got:

Johan Santana, LHP

Santana will go down as one of the best pitchers of the 2000s. He won two Cy Youngs, the Triple Crown in 2006, three ERA titles, three Strikeout titles, a Gold Glove, and made four All Star teams, but should have made six. He was highly sought after, with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Mets all in a bidding war for him. The Mets were the only ones willing to give up the prospects necessary to make the deal. But, more on those players later.

Santana was awesome, especially at first. He should have been an All-Star in 2008, and had a pretty good Cy Young case. He finished in third place, but probably would’ve won had the Mets not collapsed. He did his best to keep them afloat, throwing one of the best games in team history, a 3-hit shutout against the Marlins on the second-to-last day of the year, for the final Mets win in Shea Stadium history.

He continued his dominance into the next year, before being struck by the first of many injuries in his Mets career. He also made his first, and only, appearance in the All-Star game as a Met.

He came back in 2010 and had yet another fantastic year cut short at the end by injury. But this injury was  much more serious, costing him all of 2011, with a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder. He came back with a bang in 2012, looking like his old self. Then that game happened. On June 1, 2012, he sealed his New York Mets fate. He threw the first no-hitter in team history, in all-time game number 8,020.

Despite what you may think of a certain Carlos Beltran foul ball, it was a special game for Mets fans. Though, to get there he did throw 134 pitches, which may have cost him his career. He wasn’t the same after the game and re-injured his shoulder three weeks later. He came back briefly, but was hurt again. He hasn’t pitched since.

What the Mets Gave Up:

Carlos Gomez, CF

Ah, Carlos Gomez. One of the most exciting prospects in Mets history. The guy who was faster than Jose Reyes. The guy with the power of Carlos Beltran.”Little Carlos” was going to be the next great Mets superstar. He was good for the Mets, showing signs of his ability, but not great. He had some injuries and was young. He was the piece that was hardest to see go when the deal was made. Everybody loved him.

He wasn’t as successful in Minnesota as expected, and was traded after only two years. That’s when this deal got tricky. Traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, he still wasn’t great at first. But then he exploded. An All-Star in both 2013 and 2014, he was even an MVP candidate in 2014. In the end, the Mets would have given up on him too. He took years to do anything and was already gone from the Twins. I’ll keep rooting for him, but I don’t regret giving him up.

Philip Humber, RHP

Philip Humber was a great prospect. People called him the next ace of the Mets, the next in a long line of great Mets pitchers. He was alright in two September call-ups, but there was still plenty of hope around him. When he was traded to the Twins, they even gave him Santana’s old locker. Talk about expectations, right? Well, he never lived up to them.

Humber struggled in Minnesota, and, like Gomez, was gone after two years. The difference being he didn’t become a superstar. He played briefly for the lowly 2010 Kansas City Royals, but wasn’t anything special. The next year, he bounced around on waivers and landed on the Chicago White Sox, where he was just as bad initially. Then, out of nowhere, he threw a perfect game. After years of being the butt of baseball jokes, Humber actually did something significant.

The glory din’t last long. He was sent to the minors soon after, only to be claimed by the Astros in the offseason. Then, he was released by one of the worst teams in history, the 2013 Houston Astros.  Ever since, he’s been pitching in Korea. Safe to put him in the bust category.

Deolis Guerra, RHP

There isn’t much to say about Guerra.A high-risk, high-reward prospect, he even pitched in the Futures’ Games in 2007. After the trade, his prospect level dropped, and he never really became anything. He recently signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, so maybe we’ll have more to say about him soon.

Kevin Mulvey,RHP

Mulvey was like Guerra: high-risk, high-reward.He was good, not great, but certainly seemed to have a future in the major leagues. At the time, he was the Mets fourth-best prospect according to Baseball America. He was with the Twins briefly in 2009, before joining the Diamondbacks for a bit in 2010.

Neither were long stints and he hasn’t been back in the Majors. He actually re-signed with the Mets on a minor-league deal in 2012, but retired mid-season. It is unknown what he’s up to now.

In the end, I think this deal worked out for the Mets. Santana is one of best, and most-loved pitchers in team history. He has provided two of the best pitched games in team history, and that no-hitter was special. It will forever be one of the most memorable games in Mets history and is one of my personal favorite games I have ever seen. Forget about Gomez, the Mets would’ve gotten impatient and given up. Instead, remember Santana and remember all the good times he brought.

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