La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Thoughts on the Ervin Santana situation, other rotation news

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: March 10, 2014 - 5:32 PM

I've spoken to some people over the last two days about Ervin Santana. From what I gathered, they are in a holding pattern as far as being a potential landing spot.

All indications are that Santana, 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA last season, wants a one-year deal and looks headed to Toronto (for $14 million) or Baltimore ($13 million). That's barring a late offer, as Atlanta might look for a starter because of recent injuries.

The Twins have spoken with Santana's agent, but we might be hashing over semantics about how they have expressed their interest.

The Twins, I was told, called recently to see what it would take to land Santana. During that time, they expressed what they would be willing to do business at. The number is unknown - there have been reports of a three-year deal for anywhere between $30-40 million. In their eyes they really haven't made a concrete offer. So, in their eyes, no offer is still on the table.

My thing is, if Santana's agent called back said, ``Let's work on what we've talked about,'' that would be a starting point to negotiations, right?

But it appears Santana wants a one-year deal and is gambling on a good season so he can enter next offseason with more gusto.

The Twins, meanwhile, doubled back on Matt Garza during the offseason and have taken a look at Santana. If the price is right, they would add another arm and deal with mass of bodies piled up at the back end of the rotation later.

By the way, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire on Sunday made it clear that he wants Samuel Deduno somewhere on the pitching staff. Deduno was 8-8, 3.83 last season, giving up just 0.6 home runs per nine innings. If he's healthy, he looks like the perfect No. 5 starter, doesn't he? Let's see how this plays out. Vance Worley looked good until his last outing.  Scott Diamond needs to get going. Kyle Gibson looks pretty good. The last week of camp will be interesting.

I'll give the Twins credit for going after a higher caliber of free agents this offseason. They need to take the next step and win a couple more of these battles.

What if they had landed Garza? And A.J. Pierzynski? And become Johan Santana's official rehabilitation sponsor? That's a better chance of nearing .500 this season, then taking off from there in 2015 when Byron Buxton, Alex Meyer and Miguel Sano could be factors.


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