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Twins stay in touch with righthander Santana

  • Article by: LA VELLE E. NEAL III
  • Star Tribune
  • March 12, 2014 - 12:26 AM

– The Twins remain in contact with the agent for righthander Ervin Santana. But despite the free agent’s preference for a one-year contract, the Twins are interested in a three-year deal, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations.

The Twins reached out to Santana’s agent, Jay Alou, again Tuesday. Talks were centered around a three-year deal worth between $30 million and $33 million, according to the person with knowledge of the negotations. A Twins source indicated Monday that there was no offer on the table.

Several teams have expressed interest in Santana, who was 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA last season for Kansas City. He turned down the Royals’ $14.1 million qualifying offer to pursue free agency but has encountered rough waters, partly because teams have been reluctant to part with a compensatory first-round draft pick to acquire a player who declined a qualifying offer. As one of the worst teams in baseball last season, the Twins would have to surrender a second-round pick, not a first-rounder.

Santana prefers to sign a one-year deal, have a good season and enter free agency again next offseason. Reports have Toronto ($14 million) and Baltimore ($13 million) willing to give him one-year deals. There are no indications the Twins are willing to offer a one-year deal, but they remain in contact while Santana mulls his options.

The Twins seemingly have four spots in their rotation locked up with Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. They have several options for that fifth starter’s role in Samuel Deduno, Vance Worley, Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Sunday said he wants Deduno on his pitching staff, whether it is a starter or reliever.

If the Twins decided to switch to a one-year deal — or improve the three-year offer — and land Santana, they would have pitching to exchange for offensive help. For instance, they could move a pitcher in a deal to land a leadoff hitter, which is an area of concern since no one has stood out in camp. Last year’s Opening Day leadoff hitter, center fielder Aaron Hicks, has not returned to action since injuring his elbow last week.

© 2014 Star Tribune