Mets Acquire Johan Santana

Santana instantly boosts the Mets rotation

With the Mets in need of a front line starter to elevate the pitching staff, General Manager Omar Minaya pulled off perhaps the biggest trade in franchise history. The deal brings the Minnesota ace to Shea where expectations are he can lead the Mets back to into the playoffs.

The biggest question that dominated baseball's off-season to date was where the Minnesota Twins would deal their ace Johan Santana. When the Twins' original four-year, $80 million extension was turned down by the 28-year-old left-hander, it was no longer a matter of if the ballclub would trade him, but a matter of when. Tuesday afternoon that question was answered when the Twins dealt away the two-time Cy Young Award winner to the New York Mets for a collection of prospects that sat atop the Mets' depth chart.

The deal not only assuages the negative emotions that have hovered over Queens since the Mets' epic collapse last September, but immediately makes them a favorite to recapture the divisional crowd and the National League pennant. Johan Santana gives the Mets the dominant ace they have so badly needed. Mets' General Manager Omar Minaya was determined to make a splash this winter and with Santana on board he got his club back into the title picture, a franchise centerpiece as it moves into Citi Field come 2009, and a reason to knock the Yankees off the back pages for the time being.

Then there are those Yankees who everyone thought was Santana's inevitable landing spot when trade rumors began circulating back in November. The Yankees, with a determined Hank Steinbrenner at the helm, appeared engaged in an arms race with the Boston Red Sox to acquire Santana. Yet, when it came down to it, neither team could wholly commit and that left the door open for the Mets to jump in and snatch Santana for four leading prospects but with one name left off the list: Fernando Martinez.

It was a shock to many that his name was left out of the trade as it appeared the Twins would go after the Mets top prospect as they did with Philip Hughes and Jacoby Ellsbury. However, in the end, the Twins had to make a deal with a team they knew was committed to the trade and to offering Santana the contract he desired when he rejected the Twins' extension.

For the Mets, the impact of retaining Martinez in this trade cannot be underscored. There were hesitations from the Mets to include the 19-year-old phenom alongside Carlos Gomez but the Mets held their ground and in the end the Twins had to abide. Martinez, who the Mets hope to build their lineup around in several years, boasts very good power at an early age which should project to 30-plus home runs from the heart of the order when he blossoms into an everyday big leaguer. Adding a pitcher of Santana's caliber and keeping Martinez makes this deal another huge triumph for Minaya who already brought Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Billy Wagner and Carlos Delgado to the Mets during his tenure as general manager.

On the other end of the deal, the Twins get a collection of prospects that were all ranked very highly within the Mets organization. To get Santana the Mets traded away outfielder Carlos Gomez, and right-handers Deolis Guerra, Philip Humber, and Kevin Mulvey. The Twins are getting an up and coming star in Gomez and a trio of pitchers who have learned on the job and could fill in the heart of the Twins rotation with an array of different styles in the very near future.

Carlos Gomez: Gomez has at times been ranked the number one prospect in the Mets' farm system and his future in the big leagues will shine bright. Gomez is a very exciting talent who can do it all on the diamond. He can hit for average and power, complimenting his offense with tremendous speed which will allow him to be a base-stealing machine [he stole a career-high 64 bases in 2005 with Single-A Hagerstown]. Yet the deciding factor for the Twins to take Gomez over Fernando Martinez is his defense. He is a true centerfielder blessed with a big arm that can cover the outfield gap-to-gap while Martinez projects more as a corner outfielder. With his combination of tools on both offense and defense the Twins have landed a player who could be an All-Star many times over during his career.

Deolis Guerra: At just 18-years-old, the 6-foot-5 right-hander possesses very good poise and a command of his off-speed pitches beyond his years. He has pitched two full seasons in the minors with consistent progress despite a 2-6 record in 2007 with the Mets High-A farm club in St. Lucie. He does not throw overly hard, but can mix in a rapidly developing and strengthening curveball and a plus-changeup. How he fares at the big league level depends on the continued growth of his breaking pitch, but the Twins could possibly be looking at a strong number two in their rotation in the future.

Philip Humber: The 25-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery back in 2005 and since then has fought his way back with determination to project as a successful starter on the biggest stage. In one way, the surgery was a blessing for him as he developed a formidable changeup to add to his power curveball and splitter. Control has been a pressing issue for Humber, but his natural talents and strong repertoire will not deny him from taking his spot as a reliable number three in the Twins rotation.

Kevin Mulvey: Mulvey was the Mets' first selection [second round] in the 2006 amateur draft and though he has thrown only one full season worth of innings, he has shown the tools and grit to be successful as a future number three or four starter. His repertoire goes as deep as any in the Mets' organization as he benefits from four strong pitches all of which he can control with regularity. Mulvey is battle tested as he made his Triple-A debut in the heart of the Pacific Coast League pennant chase last season and pitched six shutout innings in his first appearance followed by seven shutout innings in the PCL playoffs. He possesses a similarity to current Mets' starter John Maine.