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Hot Stove: Santana back at forefront

Hot Stove: Santana back at forefront

Santa Claus came and went, but the socks hung in front of the Hot Stove by the Red Sox and the Yankees remained empty.

They have been very good -- and patient -- big boys, but neither has yet found the gift that could keep giving every fifth day, Johan Santana, in the hosiery.

The Bombers' presence in that equation may surprise some who have been led to believe that the Red Sox were the last remaining candidate to land the left-hander before the season, due to their superior package offer.

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Begging to differ, New York senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said the Yankees actually have made the best offer -- and the Twins know it.

"I think the Twins realize our offer is the best one," Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News. "And let's face it, we're the best able to handle the kind of contract [extension] Santana will be after."

If a trade is struck, the 29-year-old owner of two Cy Young Awards would want to secure a $20 million-a-year deal for six or seven years within a 72-hour negotiating window before it would become official.

Steinbrenner imposed yet another informal deadline on the transaction, saying, "In the next two weeks, we're going to have to get everything done."

The offer to which Steinbrenner alluded is widely acknowledged to be topped by right-hander Phil Hughes and to also include outfielder Melky Cabrera, pitching prospect Jeff Marquez and another Minor Leaguer.

Still kept off the table are the Yanks' other young upside pitchers, Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain.

That treasure trove is the reason Steinbrenner also drew the shades on Roger Clemens' Yankees career -- if he decides to return for a 25th season.

"I'm not signing Clemens," Steinbrenner told the Daily News.

So that makes two things the Yankees have in common with the Red Sox, the other of course being their Santana crush.

One of the men most anxious for the situation to resolve itself is outfielder Bobby Kielty, the free agent who, as revisited by the Boston Herald, is still waiting for Coco Crisp's fate to be clarified before deciding his own.

Kielty's preference is to remain with the Red Sox, but Boston quite literally isn't big enough for both. If Crisp, a key component of the Sox's offer for Santana, moves, Kielty would want to stay.

Elsewhere among the Hot Stove's flickering flames ...

Marlins: The hunt for Miguel Cabrera's successor at third base goes on, with the South Florida Sun-Sentinel marking Jorge Cantu as a prime target. The former Tampa Bay weapon -- he had 42 homers and 179 RBIs from 2005-06 -- could vie with recently signed Jose Castillo, the former Pittsburgh second baseman.

Hot Stove
The Marlins were forced to adjust their search when former Angels third baseman Dallas McPherson, still a free agent, dropped strong hints that he was more likely to sign with another team.

Rockies: Looking for a Plan B of its own -- at second base -- Colorado is focused on Marcus Giles, according to the Denver Post. The newspaper also reports that deals with free-agent right-handers Victor Zambrano and Josh Towers on Minor League contracts are nearing completion.

Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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