It has been five seasons since Johan Santana last wore the uniform of the Minnesota Twins. In the mean time, he has been dealing with multiple injuries and ineffective pitching performances. He missed all of the 2011 season as he dealt with a shoulder problem and he won't pitch in 2013 because of another shoulder issue. Last season with the Mets, he tossed 117 innings with a 4.85 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP.
Not exactly the numbers Twins fans were used to seeing from their former ace pitcher.
Santana believes he will be able to pitch next season. In a recent interview with the New York Daily News
, his agent said that Santana has been able to do things a lot easier after this surgery compared to his first procedure. He went on to tell one of his agents that he "isn't going out like this."
The 34-year-old left handed pitcher will see his six-year, $137.5 million contract expire at the end of the season and this will make him a free agent for really the first time in his career. The Mets don't look to be players for Santana on the free agent market since they have a young rotation of arms as they look to rebuild in the strong NL East.
This opens the question about where Santana will head this offseason. Would it make sense for the Minnesota Twins to reunite with their former Cy Young winner?
There were good years and bad years for Santana in New York. Over the span of his six-year contract, he posted a 3.18 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP. Over his 717 innings on the mound, he had 607 strikeouts compared to 203 walks. His final record was 46-34 but his numbers don't tell the whole story. He is coming off one of his worst statistical years and his second major operation on his shoulder. One shoulder surgery can be a death sentence for a pitcher and a second surgery leaves more than one question mark.
Minnesota has taken on some recent low-risk chances on the free agent market. In 2012, the Twins signed Joel Zumaya to an incentive laden contract with the hopes of him rekindling his career. The same could be said about the contract signed by Rich Harden this offseason. Both players would never make it on the field at the big league level but this might be the type of contract facing Santana this offseason.
When looking at the Twins rotation situation for 2014, there hardly seems to be anyone with their name penciled into the rotation. Kevin Correia will likely get a spot since he is signed for $5 million. Others in the mix will be Sam Deduno, Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, Vance Worley, and Andrew Albers. This isn't exactly a star-studded crew and none of these men are likely to be guaranteed spots going into spring training. This could mean that there is room to take a flyer on someone like Santana.
One of the reasons Santana originally wanted to leave the Twins was to get to a bigger market. There can be some benefits to being in this type of market. A player has the chance at more endorsement deals and the chance to play in front of a larger audience. He spent six seasons in the Big Apple and had to deal with their media and plenty of scrutiny along the way. Maybe it is time for him to get away from the hustle and bustle.
At the beginning of next season, Santana will be 35 years old and it's not really clear how much he has left in his throwing arm. He may never be able to get back on the mound at the big league level. He also has never had the opportunity to get back to the postseason since he left the Twins. A player in his position might want to head to a team with a chance to contend instead of a team rebuilding like Minnesota.
Some Twins fans might love to see Santana back in Minnesota because of the many years he spent dominating the American League. This isn't the same Santana though and no one knows what to expect as he rehabs his shoulder for the second time in two years. There are over 2000 big league innings on his left arm and that might be all of the juice he had in the tank.
Reuniting with Santana might be fun but it probably isn't in the cards...