Still in the midst of recovering from his second major shoulder surgery, one-time Twins and Mets ace Johan Santana could still be half-a-year away from taking the hill in a major league game, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Discussing Santana at the Twins' winter fan event yesterday, Minnesota GM Terry Ryan said that Santana will "be held back" and "won't be ready to go probably … [until] the summer at some point."
That does not mean, however, that the Twins and other clubs are not keeping an eye on the 34-year-old southpaw. "We do have some interest in him," said Ryan. "Whether or not he wants to sign with us will be up to him." Ryan said that Santana "would be a good fit" for a Twins organization that made three significant free agent rotation additions over the offseason.
Meanwhile, a return by Santana to his more recent home — the Mets — does not appear to be in the cards. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports, with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan now added to the club's fifth-starter competition, Santana's time in Queens is now all but certainly over.
Though he never again dominated at his 2004-2006 levels, the Venezuelan native remained quite valuable over his first three years in New York, authoring a 2.85 ERA over an even 600 innings between 2008 and 2010. Over the final three years of his $137.5MM deal, however, Santana threw only 117 innings of 4.85 ERA ball. Unsurprisingly, the Mets declined their $25MM option for Santana's services for the 2014 season, instead paying him a $5.5MM buyout.
Santana figures to be available on a minor league deal given the extent of his injury issues, though the Grady Sizemore signing suggests that a guaranteed deal is not an impossibility. At a minimum, the changeup artist will surely draw plenty of interested onlookers when he decides to audition. After all, it was only two summers back that Santana — returning from his first shoulder surgery — no-hit a potent Cardinals lineup and ended the month of June with a 2.76 ERA over 98 innings (only to see things fall apart thereafter).