Santana's options may widen
Teams other than Red Sox, Yankees get into mix
Posted: Thursday December 6, 2007 12:28PM; Updated: Thursday December 6, 2007 4:24PM
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Some believe the Twins are holding up the works because everyone's waiting to see where Johan Santana goes first before Dan Haren, Joe Blanton, Erik Bedard and perhaps others go anywhere. But that's OK. At least it's the best pitcher of this generation that we are waiting on.
New Twins GM Bill Smith should be sure he gets what he wants before moving Santana, who's 28, left-handed and a two-time Cy Young award winner -- whether it be from the Red Sox, the deadline-happy Yankees or new players such as the Mets (who are offering a package of prospects leading with outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Pelfrey), Mariners or even Rangers.
And if it takes a few days longer than even they thought, so be it.
There are those who believe the Twins may keep Santana for now. But that would be a risk since he's got a complete no-trade clause and has given the go-ahead to get something done now. There's no guarantee he'd be amenable to a signing a long-term deal if he's dealt at the summer trade deadline, which could diminish his trade value.
The Yankees' offer of Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera and pitching prospect Jeffrey Marquez was solid, if short-lived (assuming they really stick to their deadline this time). The Red Sox's believed bid of Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson isn't too bad, either. But neither proposal was enough for the Twins to jump in, giving a modicum of hope to the perceived longshots in the field, most prominently the Mets and perhaps even the Mariners and Rangers (though there are questions whether Santana would OK a deal to those two teams). And while there's been no indication of talks with the Dodgers yet, baseball people believe they are best equipped to make a Santana deal because of their deep farm system and their signing of Andruw Jones, which could make young outfielders Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier expendable.
The Twins and Red Sox exchanged medical info on Santana and Lester, creating the impression they were heading toward an agreement. But little progress has been made between the teams since the Yankees said they were out following Monday's deadline.
Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner's announcement that his deadline is really a deadline this time (as opposed to what happened in the Alex Rodriguez negotiations) may have made Boston feel comfortable and thus unwilling to improve its offer. One of the Red Sox's main goals in these talks appeared to be to prevent their bitter rival from winning him, and it will have to be considered a success for them if Santana does indeed go anywhere but the Bronx.
Considering the Yankees' deadline-breaking history, though, some could still see them getting back into it. One competing exec said "the Yankees are crazy'' to have let the deal blow up over pitching prospect Alan Horne -- a No. 5 starter in waiting, in the estimation of some -- or even outfield prospect Austin Jackson.
But at this point, it looks at least somewhat possible Santana could go somewhere other than either Boston or the Bronx. Here's a rundown of other options:
1. The Mets. Mets people emphatically admit now that they're in it to win it. But can they? While they have two fine center-field prospects in Gomez and Fernando Martinez and decent pitching prospects such as Pelfrey, Phil Humber and Kevin Mulvey, the Twins have been slow to engage the aggressive Mets. The Mets have told the Twins they can consider anyone but Jose Reyes, David Wright or Carlos Beltran, but the Twins haven't exactly jumped yet.
With a belief that the Twins want a more proven pitcher than Pelfrey, whose big-league stints have been inconsistent, some suggest the Mets would have to pull a third team into the mix, which makes a difficult situation much messier. Word floating around the lobby of a deal to send Santana alone to the Mets, Haren alone to the Twins and prospects from the Mets to the A's made some sense since Oakland may like the Mets' prospects better than the Twins -- but that scenario was shot down by an executive with one of the teams. And a Mets executive says they are currently not involved in any three-team discussions regarding Santana
2. Mariners. According to sources, the Mariners have made a strong offer of outfielder Adam Jones and pitcher Brandon Morrow. However, baseball people believe Santana would not accept a trade so far west.
3. Rangers. They have the wherewithal (it was they, after all, who ushered in the era of the $25 million-a-year player) and prospects (pitchers Eric Hurley and Edinson Volquez), and it isn't out of the question that Venezuelan-native Santana would green light a deal to Texas. But there is a strong suspicion Santana would much prefer the East Coast.
4. Dodgers. They have the money and prospects to get it done. A package of left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Kemp would be formidable if the Dodgers would consider it.