Johan’s Remaining Deal

Mere hours after R.J. wrote about the possibility of Johan Santana headed for minor surgery, it was confirmed by the New York Mets that he would. The surgery is to remove bone chips from Santana’s left elbow and will end his 2009 season, but should have him ready for 2010 Spring Training according to the Mets.

Johan’s contract with the Mets guaranteed him $137.5 million over six years (with $5 million per year deferred reducing its value by about $2 million in present day terms) with a team (with incentives that make it a player) option for a seventh year at an additional $19.5 million.

One third of the way through the locked in portions of the contract and the Mets have paid out roughly $35 million in present day money and received back $34.7 in value, a shockingly on the nose figure. The problem for the Mets are:

A) Johan is already 30
B) He is now a worse re-injury risk
C) His contract payments escalate

In essence, since the Mets paid and Johan played even amounts so far, it can be viewed as the Mets inking to Santana to a four-year, $90.5 million deal this winter. How would that deal rank? A lot of that depends on how the projection systems like Santana for 2010 which we do not know yet, but can make an educated guess at.

Johan’s 2009 season has been quite similar to his 2008. The strikeouts are down a hair, the walks up a hair, but combined they amount to just a 0.1 change in ratio from 3.27 K/BB last year to 3.17 this year. The ground balls fell off and as a result, the home runs have risen. Those three indicators would suggest a higher predicted for 2010 than he received in 2009, which came out to about a 3.50 average FIP. Let us peg him for a 3.60 FIP for now (this is probably being generous to Santana).

The other major expectation will be innings pitched. Coming off an injury and just 166.2 innings pitched, the projections are not going to be up in the 200-220 innings pitched range as they were for this season. 185 innings seems a decent estimate to me, though again perhaps a touch favorable to Santana.

185 innings of 3.60 FIP comes out to about 4.25 wins, a figure that would be worth a little under $20 million per year in today’s financial climate. For the four years left on Johan’s deal, we would be expecting him to sign for something between $70 and $75 million.

Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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El Paco
12 years ago

Santana has consistently outperformed his FIPs in recent years — it’s conceivable that this is just a statistical anomaly, but I’m guessing it’s something that will continue going forward. Something to consider.