In order to be competitive in the future, without breaking the bank in the offseason before 2014, the Mets need to get a solid return out of Johan Santana at the trade deadline. If Johan can come within spitting distance of the numbers that he had put up throughout his career until his shoulder injury, the Mets should be able to move him at the trade deadline.
If they are able to trade him, they need to get an outfielder in return. Although it would be fantastic to get an Oscar Taveras from the Cardinals in return for Santana, this would be almost impossible and asking way too much. So lets move down the outfield prospect grapevine to see who possible suitors may be. Billy Hamilton of the Reds would likely be as untouchable as Oscar Taveras, especially in return for someone like Santana. The Marlins will probably be farther outside the playoffs than the Mets so the odds that they trade their top prospects for Santana are unlikely, so that rules out Christian Yelich and Jason Marisnick. Royals prospect Bubba Starling is likely further away from the majors than the Mets would like, so I doubt they would go after him, not that the Royals would be willing to part with him anyway. The same goes for the Twins and Byron Buxton. I don’t think that the Red Sox will be in the playoff hunt so Jackie Bradley is probably off the table. Then we come to the Yankees and their top two outfield prospects, Mason Williams, and Tyler Austin. I think that there is a real chance that one of these two blue chip prospects could be had at the trade deadline for Santana, especially if one of their aging starters goes down with an injury. In particular, if Andy Pettite gets injured during the year I think the Yankees look to add another capable veteran left hander, and Santana would fit that bill.
However, for every trade involving Santana there is the question of whether or not he will approve of it, due to his full no-trade clause, and according to Howie Rose, Santana does not like wearing pinstripes. I believe this problem could be worked around of course and I believe Santana would relish the chance to compete in the playoffs once again. On the other side of the coin, the Yankees are certainly not afraid of adding older players with bloated salaries, as they have proved countless times in the past. I’m sure they would ask the Mets to take on a good portion of his remaining salary anyway.
Of the two prospects, Williams is toolsier, but I think Austin is the better fit for the Mets since he is a right handed hitter and his bat is probably a little more advanced at this point in his career. Both had some injury problems last year, with Williams suffering a torn labrum that ended his season early, and Austin suffering from a concussion that kept him out several weeks. I don’t think either one of these injuries will affect them long term and I expect them both to produce at a high level next season.
If Sandy were able to pull off such a trade, it would complete his turnaround of the terribly bloated and unproductive team he was presented with, thanks to Omar Minaya. He would have turned 3 aging players into 4 blue chip prospects and the future of the Mets would be very bright indeed.