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Down to two

Yanks appear out while Mets lead BoSox for Santana

Posted: Tuesday January 29, 2008 2:42PM; Updated: Tuesday January 29, 2008 4:28PM
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Johan Santana
Johan Santana may be saying goodbye to Minnesota in the next couple of days, and hello to either New York or Boston.
Rich Pilling/MLB/Getty Image

The long-running Johan Santana sweepstakes, which may be coming to a conclusion within days, appear now to be a two-team race between the Mets and Red Sox. While this derby has taken several twists and turns and has been difficult to predict, the Twins appear to be in more regular contact with the Mets in recent days, which could be an indication that they are leading as the finish line approaches.

Some baseball officials believe an agreement on the players could be struck as early as Tuesday. But even if the Twins and Mets agree on player compensation, the Mets will have to lure Santana with a multiyear deal. Santana has a full no-trade clause and the power to veto any deal.

Should the Mets reach an accord on the players with Minnesota, the Mets will try to entice Santana with a rich five-year offer. He is believed to be seeking a six-year deal, or even a seven-year deal, but the Mets will hope to offset that request with a high annual salary, which can be expected to be in the range of $22-to-25 million. They are said to be adamant in not wanting to go beyond five years for any pitcher.

The Mets' latest offer is believed to include outfield prospect Carlos Gomez plus pitching prospects Phil Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. However, the Mets have balked at including a second top outfield prospect, Fernando Martinez. It's still possible the Mets could enhance that four-man package another way, though.

There are no signs that the Twins are in regular contact with the Red Sox. Word is, Boston has stuck with its two proposals from weeks ago. One was for pitcher Jon Lester, outfielder Coco Crisp, pitching prospect Justin Masterson and infield prospect Jed Lowrie, and the other led with center feielder Jacoby Ellsbury but did not include Lester.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have told the Twins that they will now no longer include young pitcher Phil Hughes in any deal and appear to be just about out of the running now, if not completely out.

The Mets' package is long on potential. Gomez is seen as a possible star. He has speed and a great arm, but some remain uncertain whether he will develop as a hitter. Martinez is more of a sure thing as a hitter but his upside isn't as high, and while the Twins would like him, too, they could use a center fielder after losing Torii Hunter to free agency.