12/05/07 10:47 PM ET
Santana negotiations proving arduous
Obstacles include satisfactory offers, ace's no-trade clause
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
In the past, teams wanted to lock up players for a significant period of time. But considering the way the market is today and the risk of injury, a six-year extension -- which is what Santana is reportedly seeking -- seems more fearsome than obtaining a pitcher for just two or three seasons.The list of teams that could afford to give up the number of prospects and pay off such a deal are limited -- mostly to the big markets. It's part of the reason why the only two teams currently linked to negotiations with the Twins are the Red Sox and the Mets. "There's only certain teams who can be involved with trying to get that guy," Ricciardi said. Boston is still considered to be the front-runner, even if there was a feeling by some early Wednesday morning that the interest of the Red Sox in such a deal had cooled.
"I can't address the Twins directly," said Theo Epstein, the Red Sox GM. "We certainly respect the position the Twins are in. We've had amicable dialogue throughout. I don't think either side has had any issue with the process whatsoever. We're going to be open-minded to continue in dialogue. At this point, we don't have a deal to announce. We're going to keep an open mind going forward and continue to try to improve the club."Along with Boston keeping open talks with Minnesota, Mets manager Willie Randolph confirmed that his team is still in the hunt for Santana. After pulling out of the race Monday, the Yankees have yet to throw their hat back in the ring -- although the feeling is that the club could always be a late addition to the talks. The Rangers have shown moderate interest in Santana, but it doesn't appear to be a match. The Mariners have also been rumored to have contacted the Twins again about Santana, but sources with ties to Seattle denied those reports. With Santana still expected to be with the Twins when the meetings come to a close on Thursday, Smith was asked if he feels his team still has a chance to re-sign Santana to an extension. "I said all along it's our first choice," Smith said. "We'd love to keep him." That option still seems to be far-fetched considering the length of contract that Santana is seeking and the price tag that comes along with it. The general consensus at these meetings is that Santana will not start the year in Minnesota and that a trade will indeed take place sometime before Spring Training. But if the Twins do have to wait until the start of the season to get the offer they are looking for, they aren't the worse for it. "Bill knows what he wants to do," Ricciardi said. "If they keep him, they have a pretty good player."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.