Over Spilled Milk: Omar’s Biggest Trade

With Omar Minaya officially out as the GM of the New York Mets and Sandy Alderson in, I felt it was appropriate to look back on the trade that provided the most impact to the Mets while under his control.  Omar made a number of trades during his tenure as GM, but the one with the biggest impact would likely be the acquisition of ace pitcher Johan Santana from the Twins for an assortment of prospects.  I profiled this trade in my Trade Bait section at the time.

Throughout the fall and winter of 2007-08 it was widely known that the Minnesota Twins were likely to trade away prized staff ace Johan Santana.  The only question was to who and for what prospects.  The often-rumored package from the Boston Red Sox would’ve provided Coco Crisp, Jon Lester, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie for Santana.  The Yankees were also in the mix, supposedly offering Johan Santana, Melky Cabrera, and a pitching prospect to the Twins.  But in the end Twins GM Bill Smith traded with the New York Mets for a package consisting of Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra in a deal that included a negotiating window for signing Santana to a long-term contract.

Johan Santana was a true ace when he was acquired from the Twins.  He average WHIP from 2004 through 2007 was around 1.00.  He also lead the AL in strikeouts three of those seasons.  Although he hasn’t been as dominant in a Mets uniform, there’s no doubting he’s still a staff ace on most starting rotations.

Carlos Gomez was probably most talked-about prospect involved in the trade at the time.  He had blazing speed and a few thought he could be a impact leadoff hitter and gold glove winner in center field.  In my post from that day I stated, “He could turn into a very good center fielder one day, but if he’s rushed and plays in the majors next season, his development will be stunted and he may never reach his potential.”  Gomez was rushed and never fully reached his potential.  He now patrols center field in Milwaukee on a part-time basis after being dealt by the Twins for shortstop J.J. Hardy.

Philip Humber never regained the form that saw him rise through the Mets system in 2006.  In two seasons for the Twins, Humber put up 4.56 and 5.34 at Triple-A, with brief cups-of-coffee in the majors.  This past season he pitched at Triple-A Omaha for the Royals, putting up a 4.47 ERA and his lowest WHIP since the trade (1.27).  He even saw 21.2 innings in Kansas City, mostly as a reliever.  But Humber is unlikely to move past “fringy middle reliever” in his career.

Kevin Mulvey was profiled as a mid-to-back of the rotation starter when he was traded.  He spent two seasons at Triple-A Rochester for the Twins, posting an ERA under 4.00 but with a WHIP that was above 1.35.  On September 1, 2009 he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for cash considerations after he was claimed off of waivers by the team.  But the waiver claim was made shortly after the Diamondbacks traded Jon Rauch to the Twins for a player to be named later, which turned out to be cash considerations, essentially making the trade into Rauch for Mulvey.  Mulvey has struggled for the Diamondbacks since the trade.

At 19 years old, Deolis Guerra was the least developed of the group.  But Baseball America thought enough of his ability to rank him the Mets #2 overall prospect.  Guerra is the only player still with the organization, but that isn’t saying much.  Since the trade, his stint at Fort Meyers in 2009 was the only time his ERA (4.69) has been under 5.00 since his acquisition.  He struggled massively in 2010 as he posted a 6.24 ERA for Double-A and 6.84 in Triple-A.  Although he’s still only 21, it’s not looking too good for him.  He too seemed to be pushed too fast through the farm system.

In the end it has essentially turned out to be mostly Jon Rauch and J.J. Hardy for Johan Santana.  Rauch’s 1.5 WAR for 2010 edged out Hardy’s 1.4.  Both were relatively useful, but even when combined, neither has been able to meet Santana’s WAR for any season he’s been with the Mets.

Although proponents for the trade at the time cited that the Twins received the Mets’ 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 7th prospects, as ranked by Baseball America, the trade didn’t really work out for the Twins.  Two top draft picks could’ve easily been a better return for the Twins if they just held onto him. 

Of course, the rumored Boston package would’ve been a great addition to the Twins.  But that’s just crying Over Spilled Milk.

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