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The winter meetings have come and gone and the Mitchell Report stole the spotlight. But with the New Year now looming, we look back at the trade and story that had baseball buzzing.
The Sox have structured many separate deals around Jon Lester and Jacoby Ellsbury. But they would not budge on including them both. Clay Buchholz might as well be considered untouchable and the Twins know this. So that left the Twins and Sox at a standstill, with neither club willing to blink. So with Boston and Minnesota in a stalemate, who else could snag the future Hall of Fame lefty?
The Mets have what the Twins want (Jose Reyes) but the Mets feel that Minnesota wants Reyes and quite a few of their top prospects which would decimate their farm system. A move that daring Mets GM Omar Minaya is not willing to do just to make a splash. I think he’s learned his lesson since the Pedro deal. Reports also indicate the Mets have no desire to move Reyes, period.
With the Mariners out of the race because they lack true top-tier prospects the Twins seek, that leaves the luxury tax giant, New York Yankees. They were close offering many different combinations of prospects and including breakout OF Melky Cabrera. The Twins are not looking to move a star like Santana just to save money, they truly want stars to build their club around and compete in the future. They wanted top pitching prospects Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes. The Yankees balked at first to such a deal, but with Boston already being touted as the favorite to repeat next season, the pressure in the Bronx could force Hank Steinbrenner to make the call to win now.
When it comes down to it, out of the three favorites to land Santana, Boston has the most to offer with their flexibility. The Sox are absolutely spoiled with their excellent farm system. They have MLB-ready players waiting for their moment, but may never see Fenway because of the stars currently on the Sox roster. They also have the money to get the deal done. The days of Yankee envy are over. The Sox have taken the formula of establishing a great farm system from the Angels and Braves and the lavish spending of the Yankees and combined the two philosophies to make a dangerous combination. They will not hesitate to throw a six-year, $150 milion Johan’s way if they can get a deal done with Minnesota.
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports that the Twins are willing to wait out until Spring Training to get the package they truly want. Whether Santana and his agents will allow this, remains to be seen. My take is that a deal will get done before Spring Training, I’m doubtful that Santana will waive his No-Trade clause that late in the off-season.
While I do believe the Sox will make a deal before the off-season ends, it may be for a lefty, but not Santana. Many throughout baseball believe that the other lefty, with the dominant change-up, Erik Bedard, might be a better more viable option for Boston. Baltimore is in such shambles now without Miguel Tejada, they be desperate enough to be asking for much less than the Twins. Bedard is most likely going to be easier to sign than Santana. Whatever happens, expect Theo Epstein and the Sox to make a big splash before all is said and done.