The Minnesota Twins recently offered superstar pitcher Johan Santana a four-year extension for about $80 million, SI.com has learned, leaving a sizable and significant gap in contract negotiations and perhaps even enhancing the chances that Santana may be traded this winter, possibly even by end of the Winter Meetings, which run from Dec. 3-7 in Nashville, Tenn.
The Twins have been telling people they will do their best to retain Santana, who is considered the sports' most dynamic pitcher and is still only 28. However, two executives on competing teams said they foresaw little likelihood the Twins could keep Santana long-term barring a stunning turnaround in negotiations, and one said he believed Santana is "out there" already as a trade possibility.
Minnesota's proposal to Santana, who was 15-13 with a 3.33 ERA and 235 strikeouts in 2007, was for a four-year extension -- not the five years that's been previously reported -- and isn't believed to have brought the sides much closer to a contract. While Santana's asking price isn't known, it is generally thought to be well in excess of the $126-million contract the Giants gave last winter to free agent pitcher Barry Zito, who isn't considered in Santana's league. It is believed that as a free agent next winter the lefthanded Santana could earn at least $150 million, or more, providing he stays on his current path of productivity. So the sides could be as much as $50 million apart, or even more.
"Our first choice is to sign him. He's about the best pitcher in the game," Twins General Manager Bill Smith said. "He is signed for next year. Beyond that, I'm not commenting on contracts, trades or anything else (pertaining to Santana)." Santana's agent Peter Greenberg also declined comment on their discussions.
Minnesota Twins, Misc Rumor
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