NEW YORK -- The New York Mets bought out left-hander Johan Santana's 2014 option on Friday while leaving open at least a small possibility of bringing back the two-time Cy Young Award winner on a modest deal.
The Mets will pay Santana a $5.5 million buyout to avoid being responsible for a $25 million option for next season.
Santana missed this season while working back from April 2 surgery that repaired a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. He hopes to be ready for the start of the 2014 season, although there is no guarantee. Only roughly a dozen major league pitchers have undergone surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. And now Santana has undergone the procedure twice.
He had setbacks while trying to return from the original procedure and took 19 months to finally return to a major league game.
Mets officials privately say they would consider bringing Santana back on a modest deal -- "happy to give him a chance" is how one team official put it. But re-signing Santana does not appear to be a priority.
With Matt Harvey due to miss next season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, the Mets need to fill two rotation vacancies this offseason. But they need pitchers they can count on, not question marks returning from surgery.
Still, the Mets would consider an incentive-laden deal with a low base salary that made sense for the organization, the source said.
Santana, who will turn 35 during spring training, came to the Mets in a Feb. 2, 2008, trade with the Minnesota Twins for four prospects -- center fielder Carlos Gomez and right-handers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra.
The price did not turn out to be high in terms of talent, although Gomez has emerged as Gold Glove winner in center field for the Milwaukee Brewers. But the trade also was contingent upon the Mets giving Santana a contract that guaranteed $137.5 million over six years.
Santana did toss the first no-hitter in franchise history, but he averaged only 18 starts a season over the six years. He went 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA in 109 starts as a Met.