Image of    Nickname:   N/A Position:   P
Home: N/A Team:   Retired
Height: 6' 0" Bats:   L
Weight: 205 Throws:   L
DOB: 3/13/1979 Agent: Peter Greenberg
Birth City: Tovar, Venezuela Draft: 1995 - Astros - Free agent - Out of Venezuela
Uniform #: 57  
1998 NYP AUBURN   15 87 81 88 21 15 1   0 7 5   4.36
1999 MWL MICHIGAN   27 160 162 150 55 26 1   0 8 8   4.66
2000 AL TWINS $200.00 30 86 102 64 54 5 0 0 0 2 3   6.49
2001 AL TWINS $213.00 15 44 50 28 16 4 0 0 0 1 0   4.74
2002 PCL EDMONTON   11 49 37 75 27 9 0 0 0 5 2   3.14
2002 AL TWINS   27 108 84 137 49 14 0 0 1 8 6   2.99
2003 AL TWINS $335.00 45 158 127 169 47 18 0 0 0 12 3   3.07
2004 AL TWINS $1,600.00 34 228 156 265 54 34 1 1 0 20 6   2.61
2005 AL TWINS $4,750.00 33 232 180 238 45 33 3 2 0 16 7   2.87
2006 AL TWINS $8,750.00 34 233.2 186 245 47 34 1 0 0 19 6 0.216 2.77
2007 NL TWINS $13,000.00 33 219 183 235 52 33 1 1 0 15 13 0.225 3.33
2008 NL METS $16,984.00 34 234.1 206 206 63 34 3 2 0 16 7 0.232 2.53
2009 NL METS $18,876.00 25 166.2 156 146 46 25 0 0 0 13 9 0.244 3.13
2010 NL METS $20,144.00 29 199 179 144 55 29 4 2 0 11 9 0.24 2.98
2011 NL METS $21,645.00                          
2011 FSL ST. LUCIE   2 5 5 5 0 2 0 0 0 0 0   1.80
2012 NL METS $23,145.00 21 117 117 111 39 21 2 2 0 6 9 0.258 4.85
2012 NYP BROOKLYN   1 3 1 3 1 1 0 0 0 0 0   0.00
2013 NL METS - DL $24,645.00                          
2014 AL DL Torn Achille                            


  • Johan is from a small town in the lush, green mountain valleys of Tovar Merida in northern Venezuela. It is the place he goes after the Major League baseball season to relax, find peace and tranquility.

    Tovar Merida is an 11-hour adventure/drive from Caracas, through the beautiful Andes mountains. That region is known for its soccer players and bicyclists. The most famous natives are artists Jesus Soto and Carlos Cruz Diez.

    The tallest building in town is three stories high and the streets are so narrow they're necessarily one-way — the direction of the day determined by the car that gets there first.


  • It is where he and his brother, Franklin, carried their father's baseball equipment to their Dad's games when they were 7 and 8 years old. Growing up, the boys worked in their uncle's bakery and earned enough to buy baseball shoes when they got older, where Johan met Yasmile Garcia—when they were 9—and where they grew up together and later married. And it's where they now raise their daughter, Jasmily
  • His father, Jesus, played amateur ball in Merida, a middle infielder whose impressive range earned him the nickname El Pulpo (the Octopus) and caught the interest of a few scouts in Caracas and Maracaibo. But with no real offers, Jesus became a repairman for the state power company, working all hours, fixing downed lines, raising five kids with wife, Hilda.

  • Johan's older brother Franklin, was the better of the two at baseball. Their Dad, a shortstop, taught them the basics of the game. But baseball never was considered much more than a family tradition, a pastime until the brothers went to college. The way to get ahead was through a university education.

    "We're a humble family, but we've worn that humility with pride,'' said Jesus Santana, who worked various jobs in a bank, his family's bakery and the Tovar electric company to raise his family. "The hope was that one day we'd get ahead.''

  • Johan looked more like a bookworm than the kind of athlete who would one day strike out Vladimir Guerrero routinely in consecutive at-bats, outpitch Pedro Martinez and Tim Hudson, and shut down the New York Yankees.

    "I never thought he could get to where he is at this moment," Jesus said. "Our idea, his mother and mine, was that he should study. The idea is that he would be an engineer."

    An engineer?

    "Around the house, he and his brother would pass the time inventing with cardboard or construction paper, airplanes and cars," Jesus said. "But baseball absorbed him."

  • The inspiration, his father; the passion, his own; the road to professional baseball was still anything but smooth for the gifted Johan. When he was 11 and old enough to try out for a youth league team, Johan showed up in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. "They sent me home," he said. "They said if you want to be a baseball player, you have to look like a baseball player."

  • He didn't appear to be showing enough respect. "But I was serious," he said. So he went home, dug through his dad's baseball gear and picked out the smallest uniform he could find. "It was still big for me," he said. But he wore it the next day and wound up playing shortstop. A right-handed shortstop. With a few innings as a catcher.

    "Then we found out I was a lefty, and that made things easier," said Johan, who hadn't known any better while using his dad's glove. When the coach asked him what hand he wrote with, he didn't even know enough to say left or right. "This one," he said raising his left hand.

    Of course, that made for another hurdle—finding a lefthander's glove. Eventually, he found a friend who was able to part with an old torn and tattered one, and Santana re-strung it enough to make it work.


  • By the time he was 15, he had gained enough recognition, even in the outer extremities of Venezuela, far from where most professional scouts spent their time, that Houston Astros scout Andres Reiner heard of him and pursued him. But even that almost didn't happen, because it was 1994, when big league teams froze most of their spending during the long labor shutdown in the Majors. And Reiner couldn't get even a few hundred dollars to make the trip to get Santana signed into Houston's Venezuelan baseball academy, until his persistence persuaded then-Houston general manager Bob Watson to pay for the trip personally. (Gordon Wittenmyer-St.Paul Pioneer Press-8/30/04)

  • In 1995, Astros scout Andres Reiner gave Santana an autographed baseball from the '94 Houston Astros when Johan was 15 years old. The scout drove 10 hours to the mountainous countryside of Venezuela to visit Santana and ask if he wanted to attend the Astros' baseball academy in Valencia.

    "Some of the names are hard to read, but to me, that ball is priceless because it makes me feel so good about baseball," Santana said late in the 2004 season. "I remember thinking, 'I have a chance to be a baseball player.'"

    Reiner showed Santana a brochure with a picture of the Astros' spring training site in Kissimmee, Florida and Johan was hooked. "I had never seen four or five diamonds together. It made an impression. It was beautiful," the pitcher recalled. (Mel Antonen-USA Today-September, 2004)

  • Johan and wife Yasmile celebrated the birth of daughter, Jasmili, July 13, 2002.

  • On April 14, 2009, Johan and his wife, Yasmile Garcia, celebrated the birth of their third child, and first son, Johan, Jr.

  • In May 2004, Johan put his 2003 Ford Expedition—fully loaded—on eBay. The starting bid: $40,000. Santana sold the car through Seth Dant, 28 years old, an eBay "power seller," as he puts it.

  • "He got a new vehicle, a Hummer H2," Dant said of why Santana was selling the SUV. "Eight or nine of the Twins are all driving new Hummers." Santana's Expedition, with such extras as two DVD players, a Viper car alarm and keyless entry, along with a signed jersey and dinner for yourself and three friends.

  • Santana is always up. Because he is paid to play baseball, he considers every day a great day. He loves being a Major League pitcher. He shows up early for BP just to shag fly balls and hang out with his friends on the pitching staff.

  • He is the only player named Johan to play in a Major League game since 1900. He doesn't know why his parents named him Johan.

  • In 2004, Johan became the first Venezuelan pitcher ever to record 20 wins in a season.

  • Santana is the first Venezuelan to win the Cy Young Award (the American League portion of which he won in 2004). Venezuelan President Hug Chavez honored Johan by inviting him to the presidential palace and giving him the country's esteemed national award, la Orden Liberatodor (the Order of Lierator). He became a huge national hero in Venezuela. And his hometown of Tovar had a celebration and parade.

    The attention was such that Chavez assigned Santana and his family five bodyguards, partly because the nation's economic problems have led to a dramatic increase in kidnappings and robberies. A number of recent crimes have been directed at Major League baseball stars and their families. Santana said he learned to live with the attention, and the presence of the bodyguards.

    "It was something that really got to me," Santana said. "It was really something else, to see all the happiness in the peoples' faces. I was happy to be Venezuelan, and happy they could be so proud. There were a lot of times I almost cried."

  • Johan was a big fan of Omar Vizquel, super shortstop of the Indians, then Giants. "That was my man," Santana says. "I loved Omar. And if I couldn't be him, I wanted to be like Ken Griffey or Rickey Henderson."

  • In 2006, Santana requested the Twins aide in helping purchase a fire truck for Tovar Merida, Venezuela. The club had been working with its ace for about a year to get a truck, and the Twins were able to find a truck from the Coon Rapids Fire Department for Santana to buy for $38,000. 

    In addition to providing the engine to the impoverished community, two firefighters from the Coon Rapids department will head to Tovar Merida to help train some of the firefighters there.

    The fire truck will be numbered as Engine 57 for the pitcher, and other Twins décor, such as labels, will be placed upon the truck. For Santana, it was all about trying to help out with a need that is often overlooked.

    "I don't want to see a fire in my hometown, but at the same time it's like, 'What if something like that happens?'" Santana said. "They need to have the right tools and the right fire trucks to help them." (Kelly

  • When Santana was breaking into the majors as a reliever a few years ago, he was constantly asking for advice from veterans Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins and Hector Carrasco.

    Now Santana is the guy the young pitchers come to for advice. Matt Garza is one of them. To Garza, one of Santana's most impressive attributes is that he doesn't act holier than thou rather he's just one of the guys. Santana blends into a clubhouse known for having a good-guy reputation, always laughing and joking and wishing people "happy birthday."

    Santana's sense of humor is a part of his leadership skills, as Garza found out during a conversation he had with Santana after the ace struggled during a late-September start in Boston. Garza remembers the conversation going like this:

    Santana: "Garza, what did you learn today?"

    Garza: "Use your changeup more."

    Santana: "No, don't suck!" (Jason Williams-St. Paul Pioneer Press-3/04/07.

  • On August 19, 2007: Santana had a Twins' franchise record outing, striking out 17 Texas Rangers in a 1-0 win. He allowed only two hits in his eight-inning performance. He relied almost exclusively on his fastball and changeup.

  • According to Kelly Thesier of Former Twins ace Johan Santana made a surprise visit in March to see some of his old teammates. It was his first time back to visit since he was traded to the Mets last month. Santana's new team was in Fort Myers to play the Red Sox, so Santana decided to come across town and catch up with the guys. He even walked away carrying a new piece of hardwood, or perhaps better said—hard wood.

    The pitcher got a little gift from his former catcher, Joe Mauer. A shiny new bat for him to try out in batting practice now that he'll be hitting in the National League.

    "I'm trying to get some tips from him," Santana said with a laugh. "He's a batting champion, so I got a chance to get some hopefully good wood and good hits."

    "We really work [here with the Twins] and put a lot of attention to all the details and the little things," Santana said. "That's what will make you a winner. From the personal side, I've become more than a player, but a good person. I've learned a lot of things in this organization, and I'm very proud to have been a part of this organization in the past."

    Santana still has his house in Fort Myers and said that he hopes to check in with everyone at the Twins from time to time. But while the brief visit was a chance to catch up and rehash old memories, he's not remaining wistful about what might have been.

    "It's baseball, you have to move on and look forward to the future," Santana said. "Hopefully the Twins will exceed all the expectations and we'll do the same thing over there with the Mets."


  • Santana greets every one of his teammates with a personal handshake. He explained several of the to Dave Lennon of Newsday in April 2009:

    To Carlos Delgado: "He says I look like a [clothes] hanger, so he puts me up and then pulls me down by the shoulders," Johan said.

    To David Wright: "That's 'Guard the line, Guard the line.' " Santana repeatedly points both of his index fingers to one side.

    To Ramon Castro: "That's the best." Santana puts both hands to the sides of his head and makes it look like it's exploding. Castro is famous on the Mets for his huge cranium.

    To Jeremy Reed: "He has long hair, so I do this," Santana says, flicking the back of his neck. "He was begging me all spring to know what I was going to do and I told him to wait until Opening Day."

    To strength coach Rick Slate: "Slate hears everything," Santana said, explaining why he cups his ears for that handshake.

    Santana said the handshakes are not new—he did them the previous season too. Another one of his favorites was the greeting for Luis Ayala, who got what Santana described as a Mexican dance. As he did so, Santana shimmied around in a little circle.

    When told that it looks complicated, Santana disagreed, saying, "When you look at someone, they know exactly what to do."

  • Santana Pitched the first no hitter in Mets history Friday night June 1, 2012 at Citi Field. “Coming back (from shoulder-capsule surgery), there were a lot of question marks around me,’’ Santana said. “Whether it’s velocity, whether it’s ‘can he come back and compete again?’

    “But I’ve got my heart, and I know how to do my things, and I always love to compete. I always find ways to compete. So more than risking anything, my thought was, ‘I have the opportunity to make this happen and I’m not gonna let it get away. It might be once in a lifetime."

  • January, 2015: Santana’s career looked like it was in serious jeopardy when he tore his left Achilles tendon in June 2014 while attempting to make a return to Major League Baseball.

    According to ESPN, Santana is trying again. He is attempting a comeback by playing in the Venezuelan Winter League, and hopes for a return to the big leagues in 2015.


  • 1996: The Astros signed Santana as a free agent, out of Venezuela, at age 17.

  • December 1999: In a pre-arranged deal, the Marlins picked Santana out of the Astros' organization in the Rule 5 Draft. Then they sold him to the Twins.

  • February 13, 2004: Santana lost his arbitration case to the Twins. A three-member panel picked the team's arbitration figure of $1.6 million instead of the $2.5 million he sought.

  • February 14, 2005: Santana and the Twins agreed to a four-year contract, skipping salary arbitration for Johan. He had asked for a raise from $1.6 million to $6.8 million and had been offered $5 million by the Twins.

  • February 1, 2008: The Mets sent outfielder Carlos Gomez, righthanded pitchers Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. To complete the deal for Santana, the Mets signed him to a contract through 2014 worth about $137 million. That would reflect annual salaries averaging about $21,667,000 and a signing bonus of about $7 million that would increase the 2008 earnings of the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner to about $20.25 million and the total value of the package to about $150 million.

    The contract exceeds the value of the seven-year contract Barry Zito signed with the Giants 13 months before and the $119 million the Mets agreed to pay Carlos Beltran from 2005-11.

    The breakdown on his yearly salaries: 2008 is $19 million, 2009 is for $20 million, 2010 at $21 million, 2011 for $22.5 million, 2012 at $24 million, and 2013 calls for a salary of $25.5 million.

    October 31, 2013: The Mets bought out Johan's 2014 option for $5.5 million, hoping to sign him again to a modest deal.

  • March 4, 2014: Santana signed a one-year, $3 million contract if added to the 40-man roster and would have the chance to earn bonuses based on days on the active 25-man roster and starts. Santana can earn a total of $5.05 million in incentives.

    Johan could earn $2.1 million in bonuses based on days on the active 25-man roster: $250,000 for 30, $350,000 for 60, $500,000 for 90 and $1 million for 120. He can make $2.95 million based on starts: $250,000 for five, $350,000 for 10, $500,000 for 15, $750,000 for 20, $150,000 each for 21 and 22, $200,000 apiece for 23 and 24, and $400,000 for 25.

    He has additional award bonuses for All-Star selection, and winning a Gold Glove and the Comeback Player of the Year and league championship series and World Series MVP awards.

  • February 26, 2015: Santana signed with the Blue Jays.  Santana would get $100,000 if he is released before March 25. He would be able to opt out of the deal if he isn't added to the major league roster by May 30.

  • June 27, 2015: Santana announced he was suspending his bid to pitch in the majors, saying he will try again in 2016.

  • 2017: At age 37 Santana is attempting another MLB comeback.

  • Santana is a hard-throwing lefthander with a loose, live arm. His repertoire: an 88-95 mph FASTBALL, a CUT FASTBALL that bores down and in, good CURVEBALL, a SLIDER that has a wide, sweeping break and a nasty, totally dominating CHANGEUP that has embarrassed many a batter. Teammates call it the "yo-yo," but Johan calls it the "butterfly" because it flutters and makes batters swinging only at the air like in the Bugs Bunny cartoon.

    Johan has an interesting grip for his changeup. He holds the ball close to his palm with his index finger on the inside seam and his middle fingers over the top seams. He throws the change about 15 mph sloer than his fastball. Minor league pitching coach Bobby Cuellar helped him with that changeup, and it improved Santana markedly.

    Every Major League pitcher has his "out" pitch. But Johan has three out pitches. And he can locate any one of the three for a strike at any time in any count—the 95 mph heater, the knee-buckling slider, or the breath-taking changeup that leaves his hand from the exact same delivery as his fastball but travels 15 mph slower.
  • He can make the ball break both ways. He has good command of the strike zone.

  • In 2000, his control improved when he raised his release point. But he still has to eliminate those lapses in control if he is to have a Major League career.

  • Santana struck out an Edmonton Trappers franchise-record 16 batters in just seven innings April 29, 2002 against New Orleans (PCL-Astros).

  • Santana was disappointed when the Twins signed Kenny Rogers on March 13, 2003, knocking Johan out of his spot in the starting rotation. He was frustrated, but willing to move to the bullpen. But after Joe Mays went down, the Twins made Santana a starter on July 11. And he started 18 games, relieving in 27 contests.

  • When Santana is on, you will see a lot of checked swings by righthanded hitters.

  • Santana was the unanimous pick for the 2004 American League Cy Young Award. He led the league with a 2.61 ERA and 265 strikeouts, going 13-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break. He also held opposing hitters to a .192 batting average and posting a 0.92 WHIP—all AL-best numbers. He trailed only 21-game winner Schilling in innings pitched with 228.

  • In 2006, Santana was again the unanimous choice for AL Cy Young Award. He also won his second AL ERA title with a 2.77 mark and struck out 245 to lead the Majors and win his third straight AL title. Johan also tied with the Yankees' Chien-Ming Wang with 19 wins, most in the AL.

  • Johan doesn't study scouting reports. And he doesn't spend time looking at video tape. Instead, Santana pitches by feel. He relies mostly on what he reads in opposing batters early: the subtle giveaways—a lean, a take, a glance, a swing—things that tell him what the batter is thinking.

  • Before Santana delivers the ball, he stands square to the hitter, flush left of the rubber, legs apart like a high-noon gunfighter. He does this because he's only six feet tall and under 200 pounds, and wants to establish a presence.

  • In 2007, Johan gave up only one homerun to the Yankees all season, to Hideki Matsui, but surrendered 33 overall—the only AL pitcher to give up 30 home runs.

  • June 1, 2012: Santana pitched the first no-hitter in New York Mets' history, helped by an umpire's missed call and an outstanding catch in left field in an 8-0 victory over the 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. After a string of close calls in their 51-season history, Santana finally finished the job in the Mets' 8,020nd game since the team was born in 1962.

    Carlos Beltran, back at Citi Field for the first time since the Mets traded him last July, hit a line drive over third base in the sixth inning that hit the foul line and should have been called fair. But third base umpire Adrian Johnson ruled it foul and the no-hitter was intact — even though a replay clearly showed a mark where the ball landed on the chalk line.

    It was the first time since Nolan Ryan in 1990 against the Oakland A's that a pitcher had thrown a no-hitter vs. the reigning World Champs. And it was the first time since Dave Righetti in 1983 that any pitcher followed a complete game shutout with a no-hitter.

    On June 22, 2012, New York City mahor Michale Bloomberg presented Santana with a key to the city.

  •  As of the start of the 2013 season, Santana has a career record of 139-78 with 3.20 ERA, having allowed 220 home runs and 1726 hits in 2026 innings.

  • Johan does a great job with the leather, fielding his position really well. He works at it, and the the results are obvious. He does a Gold Glove job. He takes as much pride in retiring opposing hitters with his glove as he does with his almost unhittable changeup.
  • During the 2007 season, Santana often could be found engaging in pre-game drills with fellow Minnesota pitcher Carlos Silva, honing his defensive skills.

  • Santana won his first Gold Glove in 2007.

  • July 13-September 21, 2001: Johan went on the D.L. with a partial tear of the flexor muscle in his left elbow. 
  • October 12, 2003: Santana had surgery to remove a bone chip from his throwing elbow.

  • October 1, 2008: Johan had arthroscopic surgery on a torn meniscus in his left knee. He tore his meniscus before his final start of the sesason on September 27, but still pitched a shutout. He actually had problems with the knee for at least a month.

  • February 23, 2009: Santana was sidelined with elbow tightness for the first couple of weeks of spring training.

  • August 22, 2009: Johan was on the D.L. and underwent surgery on September 1 to clean up bone chips in his left elbow. He missed the rest of the season.

  • September 10, 2010: An MRI found that Santana had suffered a tear of the anterior capsule of the left shoulder, requiring surgery. The injury was  on the front and bottom part of the shoulder, close to the pectoral muscle, the team said, resulting in discomfort radiating through both the pectoral muscle and shoulder.

    Johan had surgery on September 15, performed by David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

  • March 22, 2011: Santana started the season on the D.L. while recovering from the surgery to repair his torn left shoulder in 2010.

    During Johan's rehab process he began complaining about soreness in the shoulder. An examination revealed he was experiencing fatigue in his shoulder. He missed the entire season.

  • July 21-August 11, 2012: Santana has experienced ankle soreness since July 6, when Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson stepped on Santana's ankle in a race to first base at Citi Field. A right ankle sprain forced New York to place the left-hander on the 15-day disabled list.

    August 18, 2012: Johan was on the D.L. with inflammation in his lower back.

  • March 6, 2013: Santana's shoulder was not allowing him to take the mound. He started the season on the D.L. when it was discovered that he suffered a re-tear of the anterior capsule in his left shoulder and a repeat surgery was necessary.

    Johan needed 19 months to throw a major league pitch after the first procedure, which had been performed on fewer than a dozen pitchers in major league history.

    Now, he likely would need to overcome the surgery twice, this time at age 34, in order to return to pitching. The needed 19 months to throw a major league pitch after the first procedure, which had been performed on fewer than a dozen pitchers in major league history.

    The surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule had been performed previously on only a handful of pitchers, beginning with Bret Saberhagen on May 28, 1996, Altchek told last year. The surgery on Santana left a two-inch scar at the front of his prized shoulder.

    The sparse list of pitchers now also includes Chris Young, Mark Prior, Chien-Ming Wang, Rich Harden and Dallas Braden.

    The capsule is the set of ligaments that run between the ball and socket, holding them in place. The ligaments nearly completely encircle the shoulder. They span the front, bottom and back of the shoulder, but not the top.

    Tearing the anterior capsule can result in the ball slipping forward in the shoulder socket during the delivery. Young actually felt discomfort in the back of his right shoulder before his May 16, 2011, surgery -- even though the tear was in the front of the capsule -- because the rear ligaments that remained intact were stretching as the ball slipped forward in his socket.

    If the tear occurs on the socket side, the repair can be done through a less invasive arthroscopic procedure, as was the case with Braden, as well as former New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. If the tear is on the ball side, the surgeon is required to make an incision and go in through the front. That was the case with both Santana and Young.

  • April 3-end of 2014 season: Santana was on the D.L. while recovering from his April, '13 shoulder surgery.

    Then on June 6, 2014: An MRI revealed a torn Achilles tendon. His season was over before it began.

  • January 22, 2015: Santana was sidelined with shoulder fatigue in the Venezuelan Winter League.

    An MRI showed no structural damage.

Last Updated 1/23/2018 8:42:00 AM. All contents © 2000 by Player Profiles. All rights reserved.