By Joe Christensen
Yesterday, Hank Steinbrenner the Newark Star Ledger what many people have long suspected: The Yankees aren’t out of the Johan Santana sweepstakes. “We’re still considering it,” Steinbrenner said. “I haven’t closed the door completely on Santana.” The story adds:
A person who has spoken to Minnesota management and asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak for the team said the Yankees told the Twins they would get back into the Santana talks if they can shed the contract of left fielder Hideki Matsui.
I heard the same thing from the Twins this week. I know it’s surprising to see the Yankees concerned about money, but they were hoping to trade Matsui to San Francisco before the Giants signed Aaron Rowand. Just spit-balling here, but the Phillies and Padres are reportedly the two teams trying to sign free agent Geoff Jenkins. Perhaps the team that misses out on Jenkins would be a potential Matsui suitor.
The point is, the Yankees are trying to make a Santana deal happen again. And if you look at the pitching market, it makes sense. Oakland traded Dan Haren to Arizona. That leaves Santana and Erik Bedard as the two top pitchers available on the trade market. Seems unlikely the Orioles would trade Bedard to a division rival, so the Yankees might need to move on Santana, or risk seeing him in a Red Sox uniform for the next seven years.
Another development to follow is the Hiroki Kuroda derby. The Dodgers and Mariners are both trying to sign the Japanese pitcher, and the team that misses out might make a last-ditch effort for Santana. Once Kuroda lands, the Twins should have a crystal clear picture of Santana’s trade market, and I’m guessing they will take their best offer, with the whole thing settled by Christmas.