ESPN is reporting that Santana and the Mets have agreed on a new contract for $150.75 million over the next seven years. This is actually a six-year extension for $137.5 million, an average of just under $23 million for each year.UPDATE: It turns out the numbers of this deal were significantly mis-reported. Santana's new deal actually is a five-year extension for $124.25 million, or $24.85 million per year. The latest contract details (per Cot's Contracts) are:
08:$19M, 09:$20M, 10:$21M, 11:$22.5M, 12:$24M, 13:$25.5M, 14:$25M club option ($5.5M buyout)
The 2014 club option is vesting with innings pitched, but basically, the new deal is $137.5 million total guaranteed, not a $137.5 million extension. Since Santana's original deal called for only a $13.25 million salary in 2008, this extension is valued at only $124.25 million over five years, with a small part of the guarantee coming in the sixth-year buyout. In other words, the AAV of the extension is higher than originally reported, but the length and total dollars are lower.
Cot's also notes that $5 million of each year's salary is deferred -- we don't know for how long, but Cot's reports that the effect is to reduce the value of the deal to "only" $20 million per year, rather than the $22.9 it appears to be. (That's assuming they're talking about the value of the entire new contract rather than just the extension. It's not easy to parse and discuss the exact value of deferrals, in part because we lack the exact details, and in part because our basic way of describing contracts is almost done outside of any meaningful present-day value mode. Ideally, we'd talk about all deals more like mortgages, and then deferrals would be easier to integrate, but that ain't gonna happen anytime soon.)
This doesn't make the contract manifestly different than we thought it was, but it does move the bar closer in terms of the most outlying contract that can be compared to C.C.'s. For one thing, it reduces the total value by $13.25 million, which in itself might be enough to make a difference. Perhaps more significantly, it is not a "seven-year deal" as had been reported. It is a five-year extension with a sixth year club option that vests into a player option, triggered by either multiple high Cy Young finishes or by remaining healthy in the latter part of the deal.
The significance, as I see it, is that giving C.C. a four-year extension, with a similar club-to-player vesting option on a fifth year, would only be one year short of Santana's high-water mark rather than two years short. And that is a significant development, because it provides a framework both sides could live with. Sabathia will be entering his age-32 season in 2013, which would be the fifth year of an extension beyond 2008. The potential to re-enter the market at age 32, rather than age 33, is a significant upside for the player.