Ready, set, deal

November, 28, 2007
The winter meetings are under way, and there's a growing sense of excitement at the Opryland Hotel, which is a little bit reminiscent of Disneyland without the rides. The sprawling grounds include hanging gardens, rivers and waterfalls, and there are about five lobbies. Every one of them is starting to buzz as baseball folks -- front-office personnel, agents, scouts, league officials and media -- get down to business.

Who will be the big winner in Nashville this week? The team that makes the highest-profile signing or blockbuster trade in December doesn't always win the rings in October. Who will fly in under the radar and improve their club most?

Follow along throughout the day to find out the answers as our experts share what they're hearing and get the inside scoop on what's happening in Nashville.

All times ET

2:25 a.m., from Buster Olney
• The Red Sox have emerged as the favorites to land Johan Santana. Boston and Minnesota continued to talk into early Tuesday morning, with the Twins even asking to see medical reports on Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. Last week, the Sox offered Lester, outfielder Coco Crisp, minor league infielder Jed Lowrie and another minor league pitcher for Santana.

1:09 a.m., from Jayson Stark
• The Yankees' "by Monday night" deadline came and went. And Johan Santana was still a Twin when Tuesday arrived at the winter meetings. But even though the Yankees and Twins were still talking about different combinations as the night grew later and later, there was no indication that they were any closer to a deal for Santana than they were four days ago. In fact, if anything, the momentum seemed to be in the opposite direction. Officials from other clubs said several of the Yankees' baseball personnel at the meetings had begun openly questioning whether they even wanted to make this trade if the Twins said yes. "The more this goes on," said one AL executive, "the less they want to do it."

12:43 a.m., from Steve Phillips
• Jose Guillen is close to signing with the Royals for three years and $36 million.

11:44 p.m., from Jayson Stark
• The Twins and Yankees are getting nowhere in their attempt to complete a deal for Johan Santana. Minnesota again asked the Yankees for pitcher Ian Kennedy as the third player in their proposed deal. The Yankees turned down that proposal immediately. They have held firm since Friday that if pitcher Phil Hughes and outfielder Melky Cabera were part of their offer, the third player heading for Minnesota would have to be a second-tier prospect. So the highly regarded Kennedy headed a list of "untouchables" that included Joba Chamberlain, pitcher Alan Horne and outfielders Austin Jackson and Jose Tabata.

11:41 p.m., from Steve Phillips
• The Astros are considering shipping Chris Burke to the White Sox for an unnamed reliever.

11:32 p.m., from Jerry Crasnick
• Scott Boras has apparently recovered from the sting of losing longtime client Kenny Rogers. According to two sources at the winter meetings, Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury has dropped agent Joe Urbon and is now represented by Boras. Diamondbacks pitcher Micah Owings also recently signed on with Boras' group.

• Agent Ryan Gleichowski said that David Eckstein is "completely open" to playing second base or shortstop with his next club. But Eckstein might have missed an opportunity when he failed to jump on a four-year offer from the Mets. With Mark Loretta on the market and Houston looking to trade Chris Burke, there are cheaper second-base options available. And teams in search of help at shortstop have the option of dealing for the White Sox's Juan Uribe, who's under contract for $4.5 million in 2008. Even Jack Wilson, who is owed $14.35 million from the Pirates over the next two seasons, could make less than the deal Eckstein reportedly wants.

8:28 p.m., from Amy Nelson
• The Red Sox are interested in Rockies reliever Brian Fuentes, and Colorado could ask for Jed Lowrie in return, a baseball source says. Lowrie, a 23-year-old second baseman in Boston's system, was the 45th overall pick in the 2005 draft (out of Stanford) and has been rumored in other trade discussions.

• The agent for Johan Santana was on the same flight from New York as Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Mets GM Omar Minaya. All that was missing were Twins GM Bill Smith and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to hammer out a deal.

7:35 p.m., from Jerry Crasnick
• The Phillies and Rays both spoke with Damon Lapa, the agent for free-agent outfielder Geoff Jenkins. It's not a strong year for left-handed hitting corner men -- with Trot Nixon, Shawn Green, Cliff Floyd, Brad Wilkerson and Luis Gonzalez as the other main options -- so Jenkins is getting considerable play. "We expect multiple multiyear offers," Lapa said. San Diego and Texas are among the other clubs keeping tabs on Jenkins.

• Barry Praver, the agent for free-agent starter Carlos Silva, arrived at the Opryland this afternoon after attending Silva's wedding in Venezuela over the weekend. Now Praver and his partner, Scott Shapiro, will try to negotiate a four- or five-year deal for Silva for more than $10 million annually. Silva and Kyle Lohse might have to wait for the Johan Santana, Dan Haren and Erik Bedard sweepstakes to play out before teams start getting serious.

7:12 p.m., from Jerry Crasnick
• The Reds need pitching, but they don't have a lot of money left after signing closer Francisco Cordero to a five-year deal. So Cincinnati is talking trade with a bunch of teams here in Nashville and using some of its young position players as bait for a starter. Jay Bruce is out of the question, and Joey Votto would be tough to get, but the Reds are listening on third baseman Edwin Encarnacion and center fielder Josh Hamilton. The Cubs are a natural fit for Hamilton, but Sean Marshall isn't likely to get it done. One possible fit for Encarnacion: the Giants, who may need a third baseman if incumbent Pedro Feliz declines the team's salary arbitration offer.

• Chris Capuano-for-Scott Rolen trade talk is alive and well at the Opryland Hotel. But the Brewers are wary of Rolen's medical reports, and they would have to pick up a significant chunk of the $36 million left on Rolen's contract over the next three years. Given the hard feelings that exist between Rolen and St. Louis manager Tony La Russa, Rolen probably wouldn't be averse to waiving his no-trade clause. "It hasn't gotten any better," one person with the Cardinals said of the Rolen-La Russa dynamic.

6:27 p.m. Jayson Stark
• Free agent Marcus Giles has attracted interest from the Rockies and Mariners. Colorado is trying to sign Mark Loretta to replace Kaz Matsui, and Giles is one of their fallback options if they lose out on Loretta. Seattle would be interested if it trades Jose Lopez.

6:18 p.m.
• Major League Baseball announced that the White Sox will play the Mets in the second annual civil rights exhibition game on March 29 in Memphis at AutoZone Park, home of the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

6:16 p.m., Jayson Stark
• The Reds have asked the Marlins about Dontrelle Willis. But a deal between those two teams is unlikely. The Marlins are still placing a high price tag on Willis, so they no doubt would ask the Reds for their best young pitcher, Homer Bailey, plus one more player. And the Reds have little interest in moving Bailey. One baseball man who spoke to the Reds described their interest as "tire kicking."

4:25, from Keith Law
• The Rays have traded Elijah Dukes to the Nationals for a player to be named.

3:09 p.m., from Steve Phillips
• The Pirates and Indians are talking about a potential Jason Bay trade. Pittsburgh would get catcher Kelly Shoppach and left-hander Cliff Lee for the two-time All-Star.

• It seems more and more likely that Erik Bedard will get dealt. Suitors are lining up for the ace left-hander.

• Japanese hurler Hiroki Kurada is getting a lot of attention from clubs as they hear the desires of Kyle Lohse and Carlos Silva.

2:56 p.m., from Amy Nelson
• A baseball source says 10-12 teams have inquired about Jason Jennings, who is recovering from elbow surgery. He will be throwing by spring training and will be ready to pitch by the beginning of the season.

• Steve Finley wants to play another season. The 42-year-old outfielder is in Nashville shopping his services and hopes to catch an opportunity.

2:12 p.m.
• The Diamondbacks are close to trading Carlos Quentin to the White Sox for minor league first baseman Chris Carter, reports. Carter was drafted out of Sierra Vista High School (Las Vegas) in the 15th round by Chicago in 2005 and is ranked among the White Sox's top 10 prospects by Baseball America.

1:33 p.m., from Jerry Crasnick
• Now that one of Houston's free-agent targets, Randy Wolf, has signed a one-year contract with San Diego, the Astros could step up their pursuit of Jon Lieber. Ed Wade, Houston's new general manager, was in Philadelphia when Lieber won 17 games for the Phillies in 2005. Agent Rex Gary said eight or nine clubs have expressed interest in Lieber, who went 3-6 last season while making only 14 appearances because of a foot injury.

• Don't be surprised if Washington general manager Jim Bowden moves one of his top relievers, Chad Cordero or Jon Rauch. There's a scarcity of closers on the market, and one agent who talked to Bowden recently said, "You can tell he's itching to get down to Nashville and do something."

1:15 p.m., from Jerry Crasnick
• The Dodgers could be a player in the Andruw Jones market. One source in Nashville said Los Angeles has a two-year, $32 million offer on the table to Jones. Agent Scott Boras is believed to be seeking a deal similar to Torii Hunter's five-year, $90 million contract with the Angels, but that could be a challenge after Jones hit .222 with 26 homers for Atlanta in 2007. The Dodgers are interested in both Jones and Aaron Rowand, but only as relatively short-term signings. Barring a change of heart on the part of owner Frank McCourt and GM Ned Colletti, that probably means three years, max.

• There are indications the Phillies might be willing to go to four years on Aaron Rowand -- or at least three years with a vesting option. Rowand, who hit 27 homers and drove in 89 runs for Philadelphia this season, is looking for a five-year contract. The Phillies offered Rowand salary arbitration to assure themselves of draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere. But Rowand is generating enough interest on the market that he'll almost certainly decline the offer.

1:08 p.m., from Buster Olney
• There are whispers that the Twins might decide to hold onto Johan Santana. With a healthy Francisco Liriano alongside him in the rotation, Minnesota would have a fearsome 1-2 punch. If the Twins do some big things in '08, they could find a way to re-sign Santana. If not, they could move him in July, as long as he decides to waive his no-trade clause, but that is no guarantee.




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