After a self-imposed deadline to finalize a Santana deal passed during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., the Yankees backed off their pursuit, instead focusing on upgrading their bullpen and finalizing other matters.
The Yankees offered right-hander Phil Hughes and outfielder Melky Cabrera in a package deal that was ultimately rebuffed by Minnesota, which first held out for right-hander Ian Kennedy before requesting two additional Minor League prospects instead.
For the time being, the Yankees have committed to go with their young pitching prospects, projecting Hughes, Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain as pieces of a starting mix that will also include Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte and Mike Mussina.
Yankees outfielder Bobby Abreu, while lauding the team's offseason moves, said Friday that he believes Santana would be interested in pitching in New York. Abreu and Santana are represented by the same agent, Peter Greenberg.
"I know him very well," Abreu said. "He wants to play here, too. He's such a good pitcher. If he gets here, it's going to help us a lot to win a lot of games. It's something that they talked [about] with the agent, and I'm not really involved in that. I just know what I read in the papers."
Santana is a two-time Cy Young Award winner who, as a free agent after 2008, is in the market for a large contract extension. The Twins have been authorized to shop him after Santana rejected the team's four-year contract extension, and those talks could intensify after the Oakland Athletics' Dan Haren was dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks in an eight-player trade on Friday.
With Haren off the board, teams vying to acquire a top-flight ace will now have little safety net if they do not obtain Santana. The Boston Red Sox were heavily engaged in discussions and left the Winter Meetings portrayed as front-runners to acquire Santana, but more than a week has passed since then.
Santana, who will be 29 by Opening Day, was 15-13 with a 3.33 ERA in 33 starts for Minnesota this year. In his eight-year Major League career, the three-time All-Star owns a 93-44 record and 3.22 ERA in 251 games (175 starts), including a 20-win season in 2004 and American League ERA titles in 2004 and 2006.