MINNEAPOLIS -- Since the Johan Santana sweepstakes began in late November, the Yankees and the Red Sox have been considered the frontrunners in the race for the ace. But that title may now be shifting to another club -- the Mets. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Thursday that the Twins are interested in a package the Mets have offered. It includes top pitching prospect Deolis Guerra, outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber.
The report also stated the deal could be sealed if the Mets agree to also include coveted outfield prospect Fernando Martinez. Gomez, 22, would fill the hole the Twins currently have in center field. He's known for his speed, which could make him the table-setter the club is seeking for the top of the lineup. But Gomez hasn't been a consistent offensive threat during his four Minor League seasons. He's struck out 250 times in 1,251 at-bats and holds a .339 on-base percentage. Guerra, a 6-foot-5 right-hander out of Venezuela, struck out 66 batters while amassing a 4.01 ERA in 89 2/3 innings for Class A Port St. Lucie of the Florida State League last season. He will turn 19 in April. Mulvey and Humber were once highly coveted prospects, but now each is considered by scouts to be end-of-the-rotation-type starters. Martinez, who turned 19 in October, ended last season at Double-A Binghamton and recently was named the Mets' top prospect by Baseball America. The Mets' resurgence in the Santana race comes on the heels of reports out of New York that the Yankees' interest may be waning. Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner told the New York Daily News in Thursday's editions that "nothing new" has occurred in trade talks for Santana and he's beginning to lean away from the idea due to the potential cost. "What it comes down to right now is giving up a lot [in a trade] and then having to do the big contract, as well," Steinbrenner said. "If [Santana] was just a free agent, we could just go ahead and do it. There's a big difference this way. We have to sign him as if he's a free agent, plus you have to give up major talent. That's a tall order." Boston's two offers reportedly have not changed since the Winter Meetings. The Red Sox offered left-hander Jon Lester as the headliner in one deal and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury in another. But they have been unwilling to offer both in the same deal. There is reason to believe the Mets could end up with the ace lefty. Of the three teams most highly linked in the race, the Mets have the biggest need for Santana's services. And a deal with the Mets would send Santana to the National League, something the Twins likely would prefer. The Mets also have shown a new willingness to pay the price tag of Santana's extension. Earlier this winter, it seemed the club was hesitant to give up the funds it would take to sign Santana to the six- or seven-year, $140 million extension he's reportedly seeking. Now, that doesn't appear to be the case. Still, no deal appears imminent, and there is no indication as to when the stalemate between the Twins and any of the clubs pursuing Santana could end. Twins general manager Bill Smith has reiterated that the team is not unwilling to head to Spring Training with Santana as part of its staff. But indications are the club would prefer to make a deal before then. So for now, the waiting continues.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.