Heard last night (O.K., early this morning) that the Twins have been in contact with Jay Alou, agent for righthander Ervin Santana, this week at the winter meetings. If they are serious about upgrading their rotation, then Santana makes lots of sense. 
 
Santana was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA with Atlanta last season, is 119-100 in his career and has pitched at least 192 innings in four of the last five seasons. The Twins made a run at Santana last offseason, but Santana signed a one-year deal with the Braves with the intention of having a good season then re-entering the market this offseason for a nice payday.
 
Any team that signs Santana would surrender a draft pick. The Twins would lose a second round pick since they had one of the worst records in baseball last season. Twins GM Terry Ryan said Monday that losing a pick was fine with him if the deal made sense.
 
There's the rub.
 
Santana, one report this morning revealed, would like a five-year contract. He can argue that he's better than Francisco Liriano, who has agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal to remain with Pittsburgh. So what does that mean, five years and $15 million per?
 
Are the Twins willing to do that?
 
The chatter in the lobby late last night suggested that San Francisco made the most sense for Santana, a nice fallback option after losing out on Jon Lester. A report out of the Chicago this morning suggested the Cubs had enough money left over after making it rain on Lester to make a run at Santana.
 
The Twins might have a better shot at someone like righthander Edinson Volquez, who they have had discussions about.
 
Volquez would not command as much as Santana, and there's no draft pick compensation required.
 
Stay tuned, because Santana and Volquez might be their best two options on the free agent market. They are interested in lefthander Brett Anderson, but Twins officials have expressed concerns about his durability to me.
 
My prediction is that the Twins add a lower level free agent. Not just on history, but the Twins know that there could be several good free agent pitchers on the market next offseason, By then, a handful of their top prospects will have debuted by then - provided they stay healthy this time - and that might be the right time to get a quality starter to spearhead a revival.
 
The media room should be buzzing today as word of the Lester deal swept the lobby last night. One report has Lester getting a $20 million signing bonus. Wow.
 
Jason Stark is reporting that the bonus is $30 million Wow.
 
And former Twin Pat Neshek is headed to Houston. The Twins put in a call early in the process but it doesn't sound like anything got serious.

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