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Winter Meetings kicking into high gear

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Chris Ruddick Logo Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - The Winter Meetings continue today in Nashville and we could finally have some closure to the story that everyone has been talking about since we stepped foot inside the immense Opryland Hotel and Resort.

The Boston Red Sox have taken the lead in the Johan Santana sweepstakes and could finalize a deal as early as Tuesday. The Twins have supposedly asked for the medical records of left-handed cancer survivor Jon Lester, meaning something could be close.

Other names in the deal appear to be outfielder Coco Crisp, as well as minor league shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitching prospect Justin Masterson.

The New York Yankees apparently got tired of Twins general manager Bill Smith's demands of including not only Phil Hughes, but Ian Kennedy as well. The Yankees' self-imposed deadline has come and gone, but I wouldn't bet against them putting a last minute trade offer on the table.

Either way I expect this mess to end today. One way or the other he is going to be dealt, or Minnesota is going to stand pat and go into next year with Santana and Francisco Liriano fronting their staff. Not a bad option by the way.

Dan Haren
If talks between Minnesota and Boston break down, the Red Sox will pounce on Dan Haren.
Before the Red Sox stuff came about late last night, there was a feeling that Smith was just going to hang on to the two-time Cy Young Award winner and hope to get something long-term done with his ace from here on out.

Should the Yankees miss out on Santana, they will turn their attention to Oakland righty Dan Haren. With Andy Pettitte back in the fold, this is probably the better option for the Yanks since a deal for Haren probably won't cost them Hughes. Not to mention it will save them about $100 million.

Dealing with Oakland GM Billy Beane, though, is never easy and he will probably hold the Yankees over a barrel. Given how much the Yankees hemmed and hawed about including Hughes in a deal for Santana, though, there is no way they would send him to Oakland.

However, if Haren is their fallback option they should strike quickly. If talks between Minnesota and Boston break down, the Red Sox will pounce on Haren. No need to get into another bidding war with them. If I am Yankees GM Brian Cashman I get a deal done with the A's as soon as possible. Don't even let the Red Sox get involved.

The Yankees and Red Sox get a lot of heat for spending so much money, but other teams should take notice how much talent Cashman and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein have at the minor league level. Sure they can both pay the money to a guy like Santana, but they also have the chips to get him without mortgaging the future either. No wonder everyone hates them so much.

New York also supposedly inquired about Baltimore lefty Erik Bedard. I guess it can't hurt to try, but I cannot imagine in a million years any possibility that Orioles owner Peter Angelos trades Bedard within the division, let alone to the Yankees, a team he likes about as much as poison ivy.

Speaking of the Orioles, their director of baseball operations, Andy MacPhail, became a very popular man on Monday. No fewer than eight teams called about Bedard. I would put the chances of completing a deal for him at about 30-percent this week, but he will definitely be moved at some point this winter.

The New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers will be the most aggressive to go after him, but don't count out the Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies or even the Cincinnati Reds.

There were whispers on Monday that the Reds might be willing to package not only stud pitching prospect Homer Bailey in a deal, but outfielder Josh Hamilton, as well. However, Triple-A outfielder Jay Bruce is off-limits.

Another rumor that was picking up some steam yesterday was St. Louis sending third baseman Scott Rolen to the Milwaukee Brewers for left-hander Chris Capuano. Since Rolen's relationship with manager Tony La Russa has diminished so much, getting him to waive his no-trade clause should not be a problem. The teams are haggling over how much money the Cards would pick up in the deal.

Should that deal come to pass, defensively-challenged Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun will likely move to left field.

All is quiet on the free agent front. Jose Guillen could complete a deal with the Kansas City Royals today, but the bigger names like Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand seem to still be a bit away.

A lot of teams are talking about right-hander Jason Jennings, who missed most of last season with Houston because of a torn flexor tendon. Jennings, though, should be fully recovered and if he is healthy he could be a steal. I would much rather take a chance on him than give big money to Kyle Lohse or Carlos Silva.

Make sure to check out my blog at http://ruddickmlbblog.blogspot.com/, as I will be giving plenty of updates on all the talk around here in Nashville throughout the day.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.


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