Here we are--December 3, 2007. Today the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings open up in Nashville, Tennessee. All eyes—at least initially—will be glued on the Twins. The Twins are dangling perennial Cy Young candidate, team ace and the man who is without question, the best pitcher of this generation—Johan Santana.
As is often the case, standing at the front of the line to obtain Santana’s services are the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Thus far, negotiations have played out fairly well for all parties involved. The Twins have requested a Major League-ready pitcher from both sides and both sides have offered up Phil Hughes and Jon Lester, respectively. The Twins have asked for a Major League-ready centerfielder from both sides and both sides have offered up Melky Cabrera and Coco Crisp, respectively.
It’s there that things get murky. The Twins don’t appear to be all that high on Crisp or Cabrera. The Yankees refuse to throw in another high-level prospect such as AA starter Alan Horne or AAA shortstop Alberto Gonzalez. The Red Sox have told the Twins they will trade wunderkind Jacoby Ellsbury, but only if Lester is taken out of the picture. The Red Sox are also offering highly-touted AAA shortstop Jed Lowrie.
The Yankees-- frustrated that the small-market Twins won’t bend-over and take whatever deal is thrown at them—have established a deadline of today. With Andy Pettitte announcing his return to New York in 2008 early this morning, one has to think that perhaps the Yankees aren’t bluffing. However, who in their right mind will honestly pass up the chance to add the ace of all aces to their rotation?
The Red Sox have set no such deadline and, as such, if the Yankees pull out of negotiations they would be the obvious front-runners to land Santana. However, reports out of Boston suggest that Theo and company are growing frustrated with the Twins consistent demands of future ace in the making Clay Buchholz AND Jacoby Ellsbury. Epstein has repeatedly declared Buchholz as untouchable, but with other teams who are perhaps even more loaded with attractive prospects (ie: Angels and Dodgers) set to enter the fray this week at the Winter Meetings, all bets are off.
Santana may have hurt his own trade value when a report was leaked that he would refuse to accept a trade mid-season. If this happened the Twins would be hand-cuffed to a free-agent they couldn’t afford for the entire season. This would essentially mean that they would lose the greatest pitcher in baseball and have nothing more than two high draft picks to show for it. Needless to say Johan will be on the move—probably this week—so keep your eyes peeled.