Santana's huge contract could be telling sign for future
Originally Published: February 1, 2008By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com
It was a great day in the life of Johan Santana.Any time you've just become the highest-paid pitcher in the history of pitching, that's a day right up there with Christmas. And it was a great day in the life of the New York Mets.
Any time you've just traded for the best pitcher in the solar system -- without touching any of the surrounding cast you were planning on putting around him -- that's a sensational day. It's a lot better day than, say, fumbling away a playoff spot in Game 162, anyway. And it was definitely a great day in the life of C.C. Sabathia, too. Definitely. Any time you're the incumbent Cy Young Award winner and the salary bar for star pitchers just got nudged nearly $4 million a year to the north, that's a day to pop the nearest champagne cork -- because next winter, this could be you. Almost certainly will be you (health permitting). So that contract extension Johan Santana negotiated with the Mets on Friday -- all $137.5 million of it -- made a lot of people happy, all right. He's a franchise-changing guy. He's a pennant-race-changing guy. And now he's also a salary-structure-changing guy. Which means he already has left an indelible imprint on the baseball universe, before he has even thrown his first pitch as a Met. But here's the big-picture question that needs to be asked on a day like this: Was this deal really good for the sport of baseball? The business of baseball? The carefully resuscitated competitive balance of baseball? Tough question to answer. It wasn't a great day in the life of the Minnesota Twins. We know that. They'd already lost one Face of the Franchise, in Torii Hunter, this winter. Now there goes the other Face of the Franchise, The Great Johan, off to make his fame and fortune in the big city back east. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Makes you wonder what this says about the Twins and where they're heading as a franchise, even as a new ballpark rises in the shadow of the 7th Street Bridge. Did they have to let those two men go? Or did they merely choose to let them go? Before you answer, stop. Think about it. The answer to that question is more complicated than you think. "I think the Twins are wrong," said an official of one big-market club. "They're going into a new stadium, a taxpayer-funded stadium. Their owner [Carl Pohlad] is the richest owner in baseball. And this guy [Santana] isn't just another player. Since Kirby Puckett, has there been a more important player on the Minnesota Twins than Johan Santana? I don't think so. "Remember, the sport is making a fortune. They're taking in a ton of money from the central fund, [the internet] and revenue sharing. So it's not that they can't do it. They choose not to do it." But a high-ranking official of a middle-market team had a different take.
AP Photo/Mike CarlsonJohan Santana will be paid an average annual salary of $22.92 million, second only to Alex Rodriguez's $27.5M.
I think the Twins are wrong. They're going into a new stadium, a taxpayer-funded stadium. Their owner [Carl Pohlad] is the richest owner in baseball. And this guy [Johan Santana] isn't just another
--An official of a big-market team
I don't know for a fact whether the Twins can afford a contract like that or not. But it's not sensible to do it, whether they can afford it or
--An official of a middle-market team
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