The team's five-year, $93 million offer this month fell well short of what the two-time Cy Young Award winner is seeking.
The Twins have begun listening to trade talks involving Johan Santana after exchanging recent contract proposals with the two-time Cy Young Award winner and blinking at his asking price.
According to people familiar with the discussions, the Twins made Santana a five-year, $93 million offer this month, and Santana's camp countered with a request for about $126 million.
The Twins told Santana's agent, Peter Greenberg, they were willing to top the five-year, $91.5 million deal the Cubs gave pitcher Carlos Zambrano in August.
But Greenberg countered by citing the seven-year, $126 million deal the Giants handed Barry Zito last December.
The Twins insist all hope of signing Santana isn't lost, that a compromise could eventually be reached, but other teams have found he is no longer off limits in trade discussions.
On Wednesday, word of Santana's availability remained mostly a whisper in major league circles, but it's expected to become a roar before the winter meetings, Dec. 3-6.
The suitors could include the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels.
Earlier this month at the general managers' meetings, Twins GM Bill Smith repeatedly said the goal was to sign Santana, not trade him.
Asked Wednesday if that stance had changed, Smith said: "I'm not commenting on contracts or trades. There's no benefit to the club, the player, or the agent. So I take the fifth."
Greenberg also declined comment.
The Twins were not surprised by Santana's request.
Zito's contract, negotiated by agent Scott Boras, is the largest ever signed by a pitcher.
Santana, 28, is eligible for free agency after next season, and privately, the Twins acknowledge he is superior to Zito, 29, a fellow lefthander.
But if Santana is determined to become the highest-paid pitcher in baseball, trading him could prove difficult.
For the Twins to get the return they'd want -- likely three or four high-quality young players -- the other team would need assurances it could keep Santana beyond 2008.
With a complete no-trade clause, Santana would have serious leverage, but there is no guarantee any team would give him Zito-type money.
The Mets, for example, might have the burning need for a front-line starter. They might have young prospects to package for the Twins (including outfielders Carlos Gomez, Fernando Martinez and Lastings Milledge).
But even with a similar need for pitching last offseason, the Mets drew a line in the sand with Zito. Their best offer was for five years and $75 million.
The current free agent pitching market is thin, but Santana isn't the only pitcher on the trade market. Teams also have inquired about Baltimore's Erik Bedard, Florida's Dontrelle Willis and Oakland's Joe Blanton and Dan Haren.
Unlike Santana, none of those others can become a free agent after 2008.
Smith has said he isn't afraid to take Santana into the season with the contract issue unresolved. The Twins could pair Santana with All-Star lefthander Francisco Liriano, hoping to rekindle their magic of 2006.
And if they fall from contention, they could always move Santana at the trade deadline.
Either way, unless Santana lowers his asking price considerably, the chances he'll remain with the Twins in 2009 seem increasingly remote.
Indications are the Twins also exchanged recent contract proposals with closer Joe Nathan.
Like Santana, Nathan is a free agent after 2008, so if the sides can't reach a deal, the Twins could begin entertaining trade offers on both fronts.
Mariano Rivera raised the bar for all closers when he signed his recent three-year, $45 million deal with the Yankees.
|NY Mets||4||Top 7th Inning|
|Boston||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Toronto||0||Top 2nd Inning|
|Oklahoma City||7:00 PM|
|Calgary||0||1st Prd 3:51|
|St. Louis||1||1st Prd 4:11|
|Minnesota||0||1st Prd 5:31|
|NY Islanders||7:00 PM|
|Holy Cross||13||1st Half 9:47|
|Western Ky||31||1st Half 3:49|
|Navy||12||1st Half 10:36|
|Temple||5||1st Half 15:32|
|UAB||28||1st Half 4:29|
|Boston Univ||14||1st Half 11:14|
|American Univ||12||1st Half 8:50|
|Wisconsin||38||1st Half 3:26|
|Fairfield||7||1st Half 7:06|
|Arkansas||43||1st Half 5:37|
|Morehead State||31||1st Half 2:21|
|USC Upstate||17||1st Half 6:26|
|Fla Gulf Coast||20|
|Lipscomb||15||1st Half 8:21|
|Southern Ill||16||1st Half 7:57|
|Texas State||6:30 PM|
|SC State||6:30 PM|
|Delaware State||6:30 PM|
|Middle Tennessee||0||1st Half 17:49|
|Texas-Arlington||0||1st Half 20:00|
|Norfolk State||6:30 PM|
|NC A&T||6:30 PM|
|Savannah State||7:00 PM|
|Southern Miss||7:00 PM|
|Georgia State||7:00 PM|
|Ark-Little Rock||7:15 PM|
|South Alabama||7:30 PM|
|Alabama State||7:30 PM|
|Alabama A&M||7:30 PM|
|Sam Houston St||7:30 PM|
|Central Arkansas||7:30 PM|
|Portland State||7:30 PM|
|Southern U||7:30 PM|
|Alcorn State||7:30 PM|
|Houston Baptist||7:30 PM|
|SE Louisiana||7:45 PM|
|Eastern Ill||8:00 PM|
|VA Commonwealth||8:00 PM|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|Sacramento St||8:00 PM|
|Northwestern St||8:00 PM|
|Stephen F Austin|
|North Texas||8:00 PM|
|Abilene Christian||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Wash||8:05 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton||9:00 PM|
|Long Beach State|
|UC Riverside||9:00 PM|
|(18) Texas A&M||57|
|East Tenn St||73|
|Savannah State||49||2nd Half 17:00|
|Virginia Tech||27||2nd Half 15:54|
|Central Arkansas||39||2nd Half 3:42|
|Houston Baptist||43||2nd Half 7:18|
|Gardner-Webb||49||2nd Half 9:07|
|Georgia||38||2nd Half 15:31|
|Old Dominion||48||2nd Half 10:40|
|Ark-Little Rock||46||2nd Half 14:47|
|South Alabama||51||2nd Half 8:26|
|Georgia State||48||2nd Half 8:50|
|Sam Houston St||29||2nd Half|
|SE Louisiana||36||2nd Half|
|Northwestern St||25||2nd Half 17:52|
|Stephen F Austin||21|
|Alabama A&M||31||2nd Half|
|Alabama State||25||2nd Half|
|Southern U||34||2nd Half|
|Alcorn State||26||2nd Half 19:29|
|Miss Valley St||0|
|Wofford||27||2nd Half 14:45|
|Abilene Christian||20||1st Half 7:37|
|La Salle||17||1st Half 9:37|
|Illinois||15||1st Half 11:43|
|TX-San Antonio||12||1st Half 6:49|
|Valparaiso||25||1st Half 3:55|
|Missouri State||13||1st Half 11:00|
|Georgia Tech||7:00 PM|
|(15) North Carolina|
|Florida Atlantic||7:00 PM|
|Texas-El Paso||7:00 PM|
|Wichita State||7:00 PM|
|San Francisco||8:00 PM|
|Idaho State||8:00 PM|
|Weber State||8:00 PM|
|Cal State Fullerton|
|Long Beach St||9:00 PM|
|UC Santa Barbara|
|UC Davis||9:00 PM|
|Northern Ariz||9:00 PM|
|Southern Utah||9:00 PM|
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