After three straight days of negotiating, the sides were $5
million apart -- and time had run out.
Maybe this blockbuster trade between the Mets and Minnesota
Twins was going to crumble, just as New York did during the pennant
race last September.
"We talked about a worst-case scenario," Mets general manager
Omar Minaya recalled, thinking of the team's eager fan base. "What
are we going to say?"
So agent Peter Greenberg and the Mets asked Minnesota for an
extension, a request that was granted by the Twins and approved by
the commissioner's office. The deadline for talks was pushed back
two hours to 7 p.m. ET Friday, and that was enough time to reach a
"Without that, we wouldn't have gotten it done," Greenberg
Santana passed his physical Saturday, finishing the ballyhooed
swap that sent him to New York for four prospects: outfielder
Carlos Gomez and right-handers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and
"We've been lacking what we consider a true No. 1 starter,"
Minaya said on a conference call. "It doesn't get much better than
The Mets and Twins announced the deal one day after Santana
agreed to a $137.5 million, six-year contract with New York --
record riches for a pitcher.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner gets $19 million this year,
$20 million in 2009, $21 million in 2010, $22.5 million in 2011,
$24 million in 2012 and $25.5 million in 2013, according to terms
obtained by The Associated Press.
The Mets have a $25 million option for 2014 with a $5.5 million
buyout, and the option could become guaranteed depending on
Santana's performance. Of each year's salary, including the option
season, $5 million will be deferred.
As negotiations dragged on, the Mets thought it might help for
Santana to meet owner Fred Wilpon and his son, Jeff, the club's
chief operating officer. So the pitcher traveled to New York and
was in the room at the SportsNet New York offices in Rockefeller
Center, where talks took place.
"It took 74 hours of hard work, pretty much 24-7," Greenberg
said. "We got creative. We tried to work together to make this
happen. This was something that both sides wanted."
The Mets were at $135 million and Greenberg at $140 million as
Friday's original deadline approached. After the sides were given
an extra two hours, the Mets announced about 30 minutes before the
new deadline that negotiations had concluded.
"He's extremely happy. We're all very happy," Greenberg said.
"We're still kind of pinching ourselves to make sure this is
really true. This is a match made in heaven."
The Mets planned a news conference to introduce Santana at Shea
Stadium on Wednesday.
"Coming into the winter, we looked for the No. 1 starter and I
think we accomplished our goal for the offseason," Minaya said.
"It was unbelievable the work that went into this," he added.
"It's a historic day."
The acquisition of Santana gives New York the durable ace it has
sorely lacked while chasing a pennant the past two years.
The Mets came within one win of the 2006 World Series despite an
injury-depleted pitching staff, then missed the playoffs last
season after blowing a seven-game lead in the NL East with 17 to
Now, New York is a National League favorite again. Santana will
lead a rotation that includes three-time Cy Young Award winner
Pedro Martinez, crafty right-hander Orlando Hernandez and a pair of
15-game winners from last season: John Maine and Oliver Perez.
"We would not have traded for him if we didn't go into that
very confident that we were going to sign him. We knew what the
expectations were," Jeff Wilpon said. "We clearly see signing him
as a major event in our franchise's history."
After this season, the Mets are slated to move from Shea Stadium
to Citi Field.
Santana is 93-44 with a 3.22 ERA in eight major league seasons,
winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2004 and 2006 with the Twins. He
has been less successful in the playoffs, going 1-3 with a 3.97
"He wants to win. He's got his eyes on not only winning but
collecting a bunch of Cy Youngs on his way and bringing home some
championships for our fans," Jeff Wilpon said.
The left-hander slipped a bit last year, finishing with a 15-13
record that included marks of 0-5 against AL Central champion
Cleveland and 1-3 vs. Detroit. He dropped seven of his final 11
decisions as his ERA rose from 2.60 to 3.33 ERA, his highest since
2001. He also allowed a career-high 33 homers -- most in the AL.
"If we had not gotten an offer that we felt was acceptable, we
would've kept Johan for the 2008 season," new Twins general
manager Bill Smith said on a separate conference call. "I think it
dragged on long enough. You want to get to a point where you can go
into spring training knowing what you have. I think everybody just
reached a point where we felt this was the best we were going to
The Mets also agreed Saturday to a $2 million, one-year
contract with right-hander Jorge Sosa that avoided an arbitration
hearing. New York's payroll is at $136.4 million for 24 players,
using midpoints for the two remaining in arbitration: pitcher
Oliver Perez and outfielder Ryan Church.