Commentary

A closer look at the Omar Minaya era

From big spending to bad trades, the Mets' GM has experienced an up-and-down tenure

Updated: October 5, 2010, 7:46 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

With a promise of "full autonomy," Omar Minaya succeeded Jim Duquette as New York Mets general manager during the final week of the 2004 season.

As the sun sets on Minaya's tenure as the point man for Mets decisions, here's a look back at his six-year run:

Biggest Contracts

[+] EnlargeJohan Santana
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJohan Santana's signing in 2008 was Omar Minaya's biggest acquisition as Mets GM.
1. Johan Santana: Six years, $137.5 million on Feb. 2, 2008. The trade with the Minnesota Twins to acquire Santana was contingent upon his signing the extension. With Santana having undergone shoulder surgery and his 2011 contribution questionable, the jury will be out on the wisdom of a deal of that length to a starting pitcher. The Mets are on the hook for $22.5 million next season, then $24 million in 2012 and $25.5 million in 2013. There is a team option for 2014 at $25 million or a $5.5 million buyout.

2. Carlos Beltran: Seven years, $119 million on Jan. 13, 2005. Beltran indicated the biggest difference between offers from the Houston Astros and Mets was the Mets' willingness to offer a blanket no-trade clause. Funny -- now he likely would waive it this offseason to go elsewhere. Agent Scott Boras offered Beltran to the Yankees at a discount in the final hours, but they passed.

3. Jason Bay: Four years, $66 million on Dec. 29. 2009. Bay's first season obviously did not go as envisioned. He had only six homers when he suffered a concussion in late July at Dodger Stadium. After headaches surfaced on a cross-country flight to New York following that series, Bay never returned to the lineup.

Best Trades

1. Acquiring Angel Pagan: Jan. 5, 2008, from the Chicago Cubs, for minor leaguers Corey Coles and Ryan Meyers. Of course, it's worth noting the Mets had given away Pagan to the Cubs for cash two years earlier.

2. Acquiring Duaner Sanchez: Jan. 4, 2006, from the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Steve Schmoll for Jae Weong Seo and Tim Hamulack. History might forget the deal because Sanchez suffered a debilitating shoulder injury in a traffic accident on I-95 in Miami at that season's trading deadline. Still, Sanchez combined during that first half with Aaron Heilman as a lights-out setup tandem for Billy Wagner.

3. Acquiring Carlos Delgado: Nov. 24, 2005, from the Florida Marlins, for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas. A dangerous choice in that Delgado turned out to be a divisive force who undermined Willie Randolph, but it was a no-brainer acquisition during that offseason's Marlins fire sale.

Worst Trades

1. Dealing Heath Bell: Nov. 15, 2006, to the San Diego Padres, with Royce Ring for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson. Bell has succeeded Trevor Hoffman as San Diego's closer at a fraction of the cost the Mets are paying Francisco Rodriguez. Bell didn't have great numbers in the majors with the Mets, but his erratic use contributed.

[+] EnlargeBilly Wagner
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesWas trading Billy Wagner to the Red Sox last season a mistake?
2. Dealing Wagner: Aug. 25, 2009, to the Boston Red Sox, for Chris Carter and Eddie Lora. This is for the baseball-savvy crowd. The Mets essentially sold two draft picks to the Red Sox to save $5.5 million -- the $3.3 million still owed to Wagner with a buyout of his 2010 contract, plus the $2.2 million it cost Boston to sign the two draft picks it received as compensation once Wagner departed as a free agent to the Atlanta Braves. Remember the names Kolbrin Vitek and Bryce Brentz. If either Sox pick materializes in a few years, that is when you will really know this one stunk. The trade likely ought to get pinned on ownership, not Minaya, though, since it was about saving money.

3. Acquiring Gary Matthews Jr.: Jan. 22, 2010, from the Los Angeles Angels, for Brian Stokes. Not exactly egregious monetarily, since the Mets wasted only $2 million. And Stokes ended up getting released by the Angels in September. More than anything, it symbolized how other teams are willing to eat big contracts -- the Angels ate $21.5 million -- while the Mets won't do the same with their albatross contracts.

Best Signings

1. Jose Reyes: Four years, $23.25 million on Aug. 3, 2006. Reyes, after being plagued by leg injuries early in his career, was eager to get guaranteed dollars. The Mets took advantage. That contract is currently poised to expire, except for an $11 million team option for 2011 that is expected to be exercised.

2. Endy Chavez: One year, $500,000 on Dec. 22, 2005. I actually have a mock back page of the Daily News from Oct. 20, 2006, with the headline "MIRACLE! Endy's amazin' grab saves Game 7, lifts Mets into Series," which would have run if not for Yadier Molina versus Aaron Heilman and Adam Wainwright versus Carlos Beltran.

3. Pedro Martinez: Four years, $53 million on Dec. 17, 2004. Certainly debatable, since Martinez made only 79 starts with the Mets over four seasons and the Mets went 39-40 in those games. Still, the move energized the fan base and legitimized the Mets as a destination for free agents. If only subsequent contracts to free agents had been awarded with some restraint, this guaranteed deal would not have been senseless.

Worst Signings (big-money division)

1. Oliver Perez: Three years, $36 million on Feb. 2, 2009. This one has been amply covered.

2. Luis Castillo: Four years, $25 million on Nov. 19, 2007. Orlando Hudson would have been a free agent one year later and wanted to be a Met. Hudson would have been a free agent two years later, too.

3. Rodriguez: Three years, $37 million on Dec. 9, 2008. The Mets originally were so proud of this deal, but there is this little kicker: If K-Rod finishes 55 games next season, his contract will vest for 2012 at a crippling $17.5 million. Oh, and then there is the whole character-issue thing.

Worst Signings (pocket-change division)

1. Julio Franco: Two years, $2.2 million on Dec. 12, 2005. There's something humorous about signing a 47-year-old to a two-year contract, no? Franco was released during the second season of that deal.

2. Guillermo Mota: Two years, $5 million on Dec. 7, 2006. This was after Mota had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The Mets even structured the deal so Mota would get most of the money in the second season. That's because Mota had to forfeit nearly one-third of the first year's salary while serving a 50-game suspension.

3. Kelvim Escobar: One year, $1.25 million on Dec. 26, 2009. Arrived with shoulder woes. Never threw a pitch in a game, even in spring training. Still collected money.

Best Draft Picks

1. Jonathon Niese: Seventh round, 2005. Niese proved a gem for that round out of high school in Defiance, Ohio, in Minaya's first full season as GM.

2. Mike Pelfrey: First round (ninth overall), 2005. How can you screw up a first-round pick? Well, consider that the previous season the Mets took Philip Humber third overall out of Rice University.

3. Josh Thole: Thirteenth round, 2005. That turned out to be a good year for the Mets in current scout Russ Bove's only season overseeing the draft. And that was the case despite the Mets having forfeited second- and third-round picks that year as penalties for signing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Also picked that draft with Niese, Pelfrey and Thole: Bobby Parnell (ninth round) and current Twins backup catcher Drew Butera (fifth round), who went to Minnesota for Luis Castillo.

Worst Draft Picks

1. Nathan Vineyard: First round supplemental (47th overall), 2007. Vineyard signed for $657,000 out of high school in Georgia, made 11 appearances in the minors over two seasons and retired.

2. Eddie Kunz: First round supplemental (42nd overall), 2007. The Mets drafted college relievers with a pair of picks in the first two rounds that year, also selecting Brant Rustich out of UCLA. Kunz, a former Oregon State closer who signed for $720,000, remains on the 40-man roster. He had a 5.34 ERA and 68 walks in 111 1/3 innings at Double-A Binghamton this season.

3. Brad Holt: First round supplemental (33rd overall), 2008. At only 23 years old, Holt cannot be written off yet. But after Binghamton struggles early in the season, he was demoted to Class A St. Lucie. The right-hander, who received a $1.04 million signing bonus, then went 2-9 with a 7.48 ERA at the lower level.

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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