Yanks balk at Twins' latest demands
Refusal to trade Kennedy may keep Santana away from Bronx
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Yankees general manager Brian Cashman believes his full focus for this week will be on upgrading his club's pitching to the best of his ability, bolstering both the starting rotation and the bullpen.
Acquiring left-handed ace Johan Santana as a result of the club's heavily rumored proposal with the Minnesota Twins? Well, that would have certainly qualified.
But with senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner's self-imposed deadline having passed, the two clubs may have moved farther apart, hung up over right-hander Ian Kennedy in a gap that could kill the potential trade.
After also passing on a reconstructed proposal that could have included two other prospects from a group of right-handers Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez or outfielder Austin Jackson, a source with knowledge of the Yankees' situation said on Monday night that the team had planned to move forward without Santana.
"It's still something that we can't do," Steinbrenner told the Associated Press Tuesday. "As far as I'm concerned, it's probably off."
Representatives from the two clubs met on Monday in Nashville, taking part in an in-person exchange for the first time since Steinbrenner insisted that the Twins would need to agree to the Yankees' offer -- right-hander Phil Hughes, outfielder Melky Cabrera and a mid-level prospect -- on that date or watch the opportunity disappear.
The Twins, however, continued to press for right-hander Ian Kennedy to be added to the mix, a proposal the Yankees balked at. A first-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Kennedy made three starts for the Yankees in September. Now, strongly desired by both clubs, he will apparently go down as the piece that kept Santana from landing in the Bronx.
"I'm just not going to comment on the very public situation," Cashman said earlier in the evening. "You guys have enough."
The Yankees' contingent was a late arrival at the Winter Meetings on Monday, checking into the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in mid-afternoon -- the same afternoon, according to Steinbrenner, that Minnesota was to decide if New York's proposal for Santana would be enough to land the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner.
"I'm obviously going to meet with everybody through this entire week," Cashman said. "Anybody and everybody that has something to talk about, we'll see if there are any matches on anything."
While the Yankees' desire to land Santana has hardly been secretive, Cashman gave indications that the decision to offer up both Hughes and Cabrera was not reached easily. Cashman has been among the strongest proponents of a full-fledged youth movement to help restock a dilapidated farm system.
As Cashman boasted on Monday, that swelling of talent now permits him to sit down at the table with a GM from any other club and hold a realistic discussion. That option did not present itself even two years ago, Cashman said.
"You want to build it up so you can use it for yourself," he said. "But the players are also there to potentially help you acquire something from outside the organization, too. You do have to give up to get. I'm definitely fully invested in a lot of the young talent. You get attached to it. There's a lot of guys here we believe in."
Speaking in generalities, Cashman said that if indeed the Yankees traded Cabrera, Johnny Damon would be an option to slot back in and reprise his role as the club's center fielder, entering the third year of a four-year contract on which he believed he would be patrolling center field at Yankee Stadium, but was moved to left field in 2007.
With Damon back in center field, the Yankees' outfield would hypothetically then have Hideki Matsui in left field and Bobby Abreu in right. But Cashman was not prepared to seriously embrace that idea on Monday, reminding reporters that Cabrera's name has been tossed into trade speculation numerous times in the recent past.
"Even before Nashville, I can't tell you how many clubs have called me about Melky, because he's under [contractual] control and he's a switch-hitter who can run, throw and obviously hit," Cashman said. "He's someone I certainly receive a lot of calls over."
While much of the lobby buzz has revolved around the Yankees and Twins' negotiations, as outwardly quiet as they may appear, other clubs are conducting business in increasing fashion in Nashville. Cashman said that other opportunities seem to be gaining steam as the aggressive nature of the Meetings pick up.
The Yankees are not ruling out leaving the Music City with something new in tow, be it Santana or something completely off the radar.
"It seems like a lot of trade conversations have heated up," Cashman said. "It's got a little bit more aggressive with everybody, so it's possible that some surprising things that aren't currently on the table start to develop while we're down here."