Johan Santana has already said that he plans to come back from shoulder surgery to pitch next season and yesterday Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said he’s open to re-signing the left-hander after the team buys out his $25.5 million option for $5.5 million to make him a free agent.
Here’s what Alderson said during an interview with WFAN radio, via Matt Ehalt of ESPN New York:
I think that’s a possibility. I don’t really know what Johan’s thinking. We’ll talk to him, I’m sure, over the next couple of weeks but I think he wants to pitch. We’ll just have to see what the market is for these guys and how much of our resources we want to allocate to somebody coming off injury or somebody you hope was able to pitch for you at a higher level.
Santana will almost surely have to settle for an incentive-laden one-year contract after missing all of this season and starting a total of just 21 games since 2011. As a Twins fan part of me is kind of hoping for a return to Minnesota, but if he’s available cheaply odds are quite a few contenders could show interest in Santana too.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.