NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Boston Red Sox reaffirmed their status as the favorites to acquire Johan Santana as the team's top executives Wednesday evening warmed to the idea of trading for the Minnesota Twins ace mere hours after questioning the merits of the deal, a source close to the situation said.
Red Sox executives, and particularly general manager Theo Epstein, had blanched at giving up four players and paying Santana more than of $20 million a year, the type of contract he will demand to waive his no-trade clause. With the New York Yankees claiming they had dropped out of the Santana sweepstakes, the Red Sox also considered whether it was prudent to give up pitcher Jon Lester or center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the proposed centerpieces of the deal.
Internal discussion has affirmed that it is, though there is no timetable on the talks, and they could well last past baseball's winter meetings, which end following the Rule 5 draft Thursday morning.
The parameters of the trade have not changed, according to the source, with Lester heading a package that also would include center fielder Coco Crisp and minor-league pitcher Justin Masterson and infielder Jed Lowrie.
Seattle briefly emerged as a candidate, center fielder Adam Jones and pitcher Brandon Morrow the main chips in the Mariners' offer, but talks there have stagnated, as they did with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have weighed the implications of Santana's salary demands and seem ready to move forward. Santana, a two-time Cy Young award winner, would join a rotation with this year's Cy Young runner-up, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka and either Tim Wakefield or Clay Buchholz, the right-hander Boston has refused to include in any trade negotiations.
Minnesota late Monday night requested medical records for Lester, a lymphoma survivor. The talks had seemed to stall as the meetings progressed, particularly after the Detroit-Florida blockbuster that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers.
- Theo Epstein