Yankees might pull out of Santana talks for good

Updated: December 4, 2007, 1:54 AM ET
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

NASHVILLE -- The clock ticked. The Yankees' "by Monday night" deadline came and went. And Johan Santana was still a Twin when Tuesday arrived at the winter meetings.

But even though the Yankees and Twins were still talking about different combinations as the night grew later and later, there was no indication that they were any closer to a deal for Santana than they were four days ago.

According to baseball officials who were aware of the talks, the Twins did make a counterproposal Monday after the Yankees rebuffed their latest attempt to nudge pitcher Ian Kennedy into the deal, along with Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera.

After being told Kennedy was off the board, the Twins apparently proposed expanding the trade into a 4-for-1 swap, with players they considered to be lesser prospects than Kennedy. But the Yankees quickly rejected that pitch, too.

So while Yankees officials had told other clubs they might be willing to extend their Monday deadline if they were "really close," there was no evidence they were building momentum toward getting this much-ballyhooed trade done.

In fact, if anything, the momentum seemed to be going in the opposite direction.

Officials from other clubs said several of the Yankees' baseball personnel at the meetings had begun openly questioning whether they even wanted to make this trade if the Twins said yes.

"The more this goes on," said one AL executive, "the less they want to do it."

Earlier Monday, the Yankees made it clear they didn't want the talks to linger.

"I want to get it done by tonight, one way or another," Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said, according to The Associated Press. "I'm waiting for a meeting in Nashville, and then Brian will give me a call."

The Twins haven't budged since Friday. They wanted Kennedy then, and they still do.

Meanwhile, officials from other clubs said some Yankees baseball personnel at the meetings have continued to agonize over the inclusion of Hughes in their offer, out of fear Hughes could come back to haunt them for years. So clearly, the decision to include Hughes in the first place was far from unanimous.

Cashman admitted there's a fear that players he might trade could win Cy Young Awards for another team.

"I'm definitely fully invested in a lot of the young talent. You get attached to it," Cashman said, according to the AP.

And if the Yankees had any inclination whatsoever to waver on their stand a few days ago, the news Monday that Andy Pettitte had decided to return undoubtedly helped ease those concerns.

With Pettitte back, the Yankees can mount a respectable rotation, with or without Santana -- around Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Hughes, Chamberlain, Kennedy and Mike Mussina. They also are expected to renew their efforts to trade for Oakland's Dan Haren.

The Twins, on the other hand, may be having second thoughts about the repercussions of trading Santana in the first place, especially after the departure of his fellow face of the franchise, Torii Hunter.

"This is a monumental franchise decision," said an official of one AL team. "And I'm just not sure anymore if they're really ready to do this."

New Twins general manager Bill Smith didn't seem concerned about the deadline.

"We've got good players. We have players that maybe other clubs would like to acquire," he said, according to the AP. "We've had a lot of years where we keep going over and picking up the phone receiver to be make sure the dial tone was still [there]. We couldn't get the phone to ring."

The Twins also continued to talk with the Red Sox. But despite Boston's decision to include center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, there was no indication those two teams were getting any closer to a deal, either.

Jayson Stark is a senior writer for ESPN.com. His new book, "The Stark Truth: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players in Baseball History," has been published by Triumph Books and now is available in bookstores. Click here to order a copy. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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