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Yanks won't be pitted against Red Sox on Santana

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The New York Yankees likely will pull
out of trade talks for Johan Santana if the Minnesota Twins don't
make a decision by late Monday.

"I'm not going to be played against the Red Sox. That's not
something I'll do. That's not something the Yankees should ever do,
and that's I think what they're trying to do now," Yankees senior
vice president Hank Steinbrenner said Sunday. "So if they want the
best offer that has been offered to them, then they need to make up
their minds."

The Yankees have proposed swapping pitcher Phil Hughes, center
fielder Melky Cabrera and a midlevel prospect for the two-time Cy
Young Award winner, who can become a free agent after next season.

Boston also is competing to land Santana. The Red Sox are
thought to have offered a package that would include pitcher
Jon Lester or center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury but not both. Center
fielder Coco Crisp also could be part of a trade.

Steinbrenner wouldn't set a specific time Monday for pulling
out.

"We'll see how it goes, but this is not an act. It's not a
bluff. It's just reality," he said. "Because as much as I want
Santana, and you can make that clear -- for his sake, to know that I
do want him -- but the fact is that I'm not going to play the game.
We've made them the best offer. And at this point, it's not going
to get any better. So they can decide. At this point, it's up to
them. I don't think they want to lose us in this thing, obviously.
Nobody wants to lose the Yankees in a negotiation."

A trade likely would have to be made on a conditional basis,
giving the Yankees or Red Sox 72 hours to work out a new long-term
contract for Santana, who is owed $13.25 million next season.
Steinbrenner said the Yankees didn't want to wait too long, miss
out on Santana and then find out it was too late to get involved in
talks for other pitchers, such as Oakland's Dan Haren.

"We need to get things straightened out, and not wait around
for them to run back to Boston and back to us, and then back to
Boston," he said. "I'm not going to do that."

Other prominent players could be traded, too, at the four-day
annual session. The Los Angeles Angels have pursued Florida third
baseman Miguel Cabrera and the Baltimore Orioles might be shopping
shortstop Miguel Tejada.

"I think there's going to be a lot of trades because the free
agent market is so poor," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi
said. "We like our club. We've just got to stay healthy. For us,
it's going to have to be a blockbuster, because if it's not, we
like our team."

One player who dominated last year's meetings isn't likely to
make an impact this year. While Barry Bonds personally met with the
Giants last December in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., San Francisco
doesn't want to re-sign the home run king -- and it's unclear
whether any team is interested following his indictment last month
on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

His first court appearance in San Francisco is set for Friday,
the day after the meetings end.

First up on the agenda is Monday morning's Hall of Fame
announcement by the new Veterans Committee, which met for the first
time Sunday. After charges of cronyism, the Veterans Committee was
opened to all Hall of Famers, but no one was voted during balloting
in 2003, 2005 and 2007. The format was changed again, and this time
present and former management types dominate the panels.

Former players' union head Marvin Miller and former Dodgers
owner Walter O'Malley head the executives/pioneers' ballot, and
Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog and Doug Harvey are on the
managers/umpires' ballot.

On Tuesday, GMs will likely vote on new standards for head
protection for first- and third-base coaches and will again discuss
what type of instant replay proposal they would like commissioner
Bud Selig to consider.

It's not likely the GMs will run across each other accidentally
at the Opryland, a hotel so big that guests are handed maps to find
their rooms. Under the vast glass atriums, there are 2,881 rooms,
Delta river boats, a 44-foot waterfall and "A Country Christmas"
show that attracts tourists but is of little or no interest to
baseball bosses seeking to snooker each other in trades.

Agents also will be seeking to persuade teams to sign their
clients. On Sunday, Houston finalized a $16.5 million, three-year
contract with second baseman Kaz Matsui.

But in this place, it takes a long time to get to meetings.

"Last time, I took a wrong turn, and I was lost for 20
minutes," agent Scott Boras said.

Next year's meetings will have an even livelier setting, one
that could increase attendance among players: The venue is the
Beluga in Las Vegas.