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12/19/07 7:54 PM ET

Hot Stove: Santana rumors resurface

Red Sox still front-runner for ace; Angels loom as dark horse

On the downhill to the holidays, baseball's offseason appliance may more appropriately be called the Mild Stove. Folks are gradually thinking more about pitchers of egg nog than starting pitchers.

But the fires do keep burning, and the warmest flames are being fanned by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Could there be a Santana Claus coming down someone's chimney soon?

The newspaper so believes, reporting on "buzz that the [Johan] Santana trade could be made within days."

If it happens, the Pioneer Press continues, the two-time Cy Young Award winner could be making people very merry in Red Sox Nation.

It is the generally accepted view that Boston remains the most likely trade partner for Minnesota general manager Bill Smith. The Red Sox's offers for Santana haven't changed for two weeks, since the end of the Winter Meetings, but the longer they are on the table, the more appealing they become to the Twins.

Smith reportedly is leaning to the four-player package headlined by left-hander Jon Lester, with outfielder Coco Crisp, shortstop Jed Lowrie and right-hander Justin Masterson also in the pot.

The reason the Pioneer Press believes a deal could go down soon? None is given, but the sensible answer is the 72-hour window by the team acquiring Santana to hammer out a new contract with him: It would want that business finished prior to Christmas Eve, on Monday.

If you are still looking for a dark horse, the Pioneer Press votes for the Los Angeles Angels -- who also have a cache of available young prospects and who have been very quiet.

The Halos have a definite calm-before-the-strike reputation; Vladimir Guerrero, Gary Matthews Jr., Torii Hunter -- all bagged with stealth efficiency.

Elsewhere around the Hot Stove, from people to places ...

Brewers: Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin has noticed the offseason slowdown, alluding to the Scott Rolen trade talks with St. Louis that appeared to be so hot as the Winter Meetings drew to a close on Dec. 6. Since ... Melvin says he has had one conversation with the Cardinals about the third baseman and informs the Journal Sentinel that the prospective deal "doesn't appear to be going anywhere."

Hot Stove
Giants: Seeking a veteran influence and insurance for young first-base candidate Dan Ortmeier, the G-Men are showing interest in Tony Clark, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Clark, who knocked 53 homers in three seasons of limited duty with Arizona (702 total at-bats), would also provide a valuable bat off the bench.

Akinori Otsuka: The man who did such a superb job recruiting Tadahito Iguchi to the Padres may yet join him in San Diego. Otsuka remains a free agent, and the Padres are interested. But they share concerns about the elbow and forearm injuries that shelved him the second half of the past season, which outweigh his splendid Major League track record. Otsuka, who will turn 36 before the start of the 2008 season, has a 2.44 ERA in 236 big league appearances.

Phillies: They appear to be running a one-horse race for Geoff Jenkins. The Padres had also been on the track but, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, have declined to match the Phillies' offer to the former Milwaukee outfielder. Ironically, former San Diego center fielder Mike Cameron is also still being considered by the Phillies.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.