With Twins-Red Sox talks stalling, Mets set to step in

Updated: December 6, 2007, 1:58 AM ET
Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The New York Mets still want a shot at Johan Santana.

With the winter meetings nearly over, the Minnesota Twins' ace remained on the market Wednesday night and the Mets hoped to get seriously involved in trade talks.

The Twins have been weighing offers for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, who can become a free agent after next season. The Mets, who insist they won't deal speedy shortstop Jose Reyes, were not considered major contenders -- but the Yankees said Tuesday they had stopped pursuing Santana, and Minnesota's negotiations with Boston seemed to have stalled.

That left the Mets with a potential opening, even if it was a small one.

"We have some pretty good prospects," general manager Omar Minaya said. "We have the players."

New York could offer a package that includes some combination of young pitchers Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber and Kevin Mulvey along with outfield prospects Carlos Gomez and Fernando Martinez.

Any team that strikes a deal for Santana probably would want a 72-hour window to try and sign the 28-year-old left-hander to a long-term contract.

"Everyone knows who is out there," Mets manager Willie Randolph said. "The big fish are out there. Santana is still out there. I don't think that we're necessarily out of the picture even though I think Boston and the Yankees get most of the play on that. Depends on what Minnesota wants, if they have what we like, that's something that might happen."

The Mets also are interested in Baltimore lefty Erik Bedard as well as Oakland's Dan Haren and Joe Blanton, who could come cheaper than Santana.

"Since 24 hours ago we've had some positive dialogue," Minaya said. "I think we're still in play with some of these guys."

But it sounds as though other teams are waiting for Santana to get moved before determining whether to make their own starters available -- and at what price.

"We're all in the same boat," Randolph said. "There are a second tier of guys who are probably sitting back waiting. So yeah, I guess, obviously when Santana goes, wherever he goes, hopefully to us, then everything else will fall into place."

The Twins maintain they don't necessarily have to trade Santana. New general manager Bill Smith has said his first choice is to sign the pitcher to a contract extension, though it would probably be difficult for Minnesota to meet Santana's asking price.

"We have to get back people that are going to help us win in the major leagues. Everybody thinks we're just launching people. That's not the case, or Santana would have been traded," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've had good offers from people on Santana, but it has to be a package that we're comfortable with."

There was some speculation Wednesday that the Mets also could try to acquire a proven starter in a three-way trade.

"There are times that multiple teams works," Minaya said. "We've had those conversations."

But the GM said he won't be disappointed if the Mets don't make a move at the winter meetings, which end Thursday.

"We like our starting rotation. Would we like to improve that? Yes. Would we like to get a guy that's an innings eater or a guy that's a front-of-the-rotation guy? Yes. If we don't, are we a good team? I think we're a good team," Minaya said.

"I don't like to create a false hope," he added. "I don't want our fan base to think if we don't do something in these meetings -- I don't want to disappoint. I want to talk about where we are as a team, and we're probably going to accomplish things after we get out of here."

Notes
After the Marlins traded LHP Dontrelle Willis and slugger Miguel Cabrera to Detroit in an eight-player deal, Minaya said Willis was not made available to the Mets -- probably because they're in the same division as Florida.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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