The Indians locked up one of the best young catchers in baseball, signing Carlos Santana to a five-year deal that includes a team option for a sixth year. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer broke the terms:
Carlos Santana deal worth 21 million for 5 yrs with club option. #Indians— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) April 10, 2012
If Santana were a free agent, that's about the same money that he'd get from another team. For the first year. So it sure seems like the Indians got a sweetheart deal for a fantastic hitter in his prime.
Hold on, though. Mike Axisa of FanGraphs writes that that the Indians didn't necessarily get a discount, comparing his deal to the pre-arbitration and post-arbitration salaries of other young catching stars:
Montero and McCann are really good players, but the Indians are gambling that Santana will be more like Mauer and Napoli, truly elite offensive performers. It’s worth noting that Mauer signed a long-term extension while Napoli went year-to-year as a Super Two, meaning he was arbitration-eligible four times rather than the usual three. They ended up making the same amount of money during similar portions of their careers, however.
That isn't to say that Santana is overpaid -- just that he probably would have made something similar if the Indians didn't give him the guaranteed deal. The Indians did get a club option to replace what would have been the first year Santana could have been a free agent, though, so the Indians might end up saving money after all.