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Santana denies report on rift in contract talks

  • Article by: Joe Christensen
  • Star Tribune
  • April 11, 2007 - 9:16 PM

Johan Santana on Wednesday vehemently denied a Sports Illustrated report that he has broken off contract talks with the Twins, saying, "It doesn't make any sense."

The report, first published at www.SI.com and citing a "league source," says the Twins "recently offered to add two years to the deal, at around $18 million per season, plus a club option for 2011."

The report goes on to say Santana "has told the Twins he won't negotiate again until he hits the open market."

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan declined to comment, as he does with all contract matters during the season. Two Twins officials disputed the report, however, with one calling it erroneous.

Santana's agent, Peter Greenberg, said, "All I can say is Johan wants to stay in Minnesota, and he wants to retire a Twin."

Asked directly if he has broken off contract talks, Santana said, "I'm not closing the door. If I was closing the door, I would have said, 'I'm out of here.' I've never said anything like that."

Asked if the Twins have offered a two-year extension, Santana said, "We haven't talked about anything, so that's why I'm surprised. I don't negotiate through the media. And I know there would be a lot of rumors going on, and that's part of the situation that I'm in right now."

Santana, 28, is under contract through 2008, and though he scoffed at the details in the Sports Illustrated report, the rest of his comments shed new light into his thinking.

"They said it's a team policy they don't negotiate during the season," he said. "They made that clear with [Justin] Morneau and the other guys. If that's the way it is, that's the way it is. ... I'm not a rule-breaker, so if they want to break their own rules, it's up to them; it's not up to me."

Since January, Santana has been saying he's open to doing an extension, and he has repeatedly said, "Sooner would be better than later."They're the ones who have to move forward," he added Wednesday. "I have nothing else to do. During the season, I have to focus on baseball, and whatever they want to do, it's up to them to say something."

Asked if a two-year extension would suffice, he said, "I would like to definitely do something longer than that. I guess the question here is how long it can last or whatever. I don't know. I feel pretty good, you know."

Would he take a hometown discount?

"I'd say yes, but it's not up to me," he said. "It depends on the length of that contract, too. It depends on how many years they're willing to offer."

And how many years does he want?

"I'm going to be honest with you," he said. "I would like to stay here forever. Now, how many years would they be willing to offer? I don't really know. Hopefully I could do lifetime. That would answer your question because that's what I would like to do."

Staff writer La Velle E. Neal III contributed to this report.

Joe Christensen • jchristensen@startribune.com

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