Twins moving toward possible Santana deal
By La Velle E. Neal III
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Gaylord Opryland Hotel on Tuesday finally was the place for news of a long-awaited trade that affects the Minnesota Twins.
Twins GM Bill Smith, however, had nothing to announce. Pitcher Johan Santana, the leading generator of trade rumors this week at the annual Major League Baseball winter meetings, wasn’t even the subject.
The Detroit Tigers, the Twins’ AL Central rival, surprised baseball by agreeing to an eight-player trade that will land them young slugger Miguel Cabrera, another hot trade target, and talented-but-inconsistent left-hander Dontrelle Willis. Detroit will send six prospects — including left-hander Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin — to the Marlins.
Detroit has seriously raised the stakes in the American League.
"Wow," Red Sox manager Terry Francona told a Detroit reporter. "There’s a lot of American League pitchers (and teams) that just got real nervous. And we’re one of them."
Tigers reliever Todd Jones couldn’t control his emotions.
"That’s unbelievable," he said. "I’m just blown away. I thought it was a big typo when I first saw it. It’s a great day in Detroit. I’m going to get my season tickets right now."
Meanwhile, the Twins have been unable to fully absorb the free agent loss of All-Star center fielder Torii Hunter and are still moving toward a trade of Santana that will weaken the roster even further. They have dealt for young slugger Delmon Young, but still have holes in center field, at shortstop and at third base. Their division rivals continue to add talent — the Kansas City Royals signed outfielder Jose Guillen and plan to make a play for outfielder Andruw Jones.
There’s still a chance the Twins could keep Santana if they don’t get a trade offer they like, but they spent Tuesday evening in discussions with teams.
The day began, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions with the Red Sox, with the Twins presented with two options. One included left-hander Jon Lester, infielder Jed Lowrie, right-hander Justin Masterson and outfielder Coco Crisp. The other included outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Lowrie and Masterson.
The Twins and Red Sox swapped medical reports for Santana and Lester the night before, suggesting a deal was close. Instead, there were rumblings Tuesday evening that negotiations could carry well into the night, with the Twins still hopeful Boston would improve their offers.
The Twins’ Smith stuck to his policy of not commenting on possible deals.
"We want to make a good baseball team in any scenario, any trade," he said. "There is no timetable."
Indications are that the Yankees remain in the running for Santana despite comments in the early evening by Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner that his team had pulled out.