Santana passes physical, Trade official

New conference set for next week
February 2, 2008 2:49:45 PM PST
Johan Santana is a member of the New York Mets.The two-time Cy Young Award winner passed his physical Saturday, finalizing the blockbuster trade that sent him from Minnesota to New York for four prospects: outfielder Carlos Gomez and right-handers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra.

"We've been lacking what we consider a true No. 1 starter," Mets general manager Omar Minaya said on a conference call. "It doesn't get much better than Johan Santana."

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.

Terms of the agreement were disclosed by a baseball official with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made. The deal includes deferred money and a club option for 2014 with a $5.5 million buyout.

"It took 74 hours of hard work, pretty much 24-7," said Santana's agent, Peter Greenberg. "We got creative. We tried to work together to make this happen. This was something that both sides wanted."

Santana traveled to New York and was in the room while the sides negotiated Friday. The Mets were at $135 million and Greenberg at $140 million as Friday's 5 p.m. EST deadline approached, so they asked the Twins for more time, a request that was granted by Minnesota and approved by the commissioner's office.

After the sides were granted an extra two hours to work, the Mets announced about 30 minutes before the new 7 p.m. EST 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 were 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 for four prospects is one of the biggest moves in franchise history, and it 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 play.

Now, New York is a National League favorite again. As long as the medical checks don't create any hitches, 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.

The lineup includes 2007 All-Stars David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, plus veteran sluggers Carlos Delgado and Moises Alou. Hard-throwing closer Billy Wagner anchors the bullpen.

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 ERA.

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.