We do love the Hot Stove. Last December it was Daisuke Matsuzaka; this almost-December it’s Johan Santana. In both cases, multiple reports have claimed the Red Sox to be in the lead. In both cases, we have been skeptical.
Whatever happens,* the fun part is undoubtedly the speculation, the rumors, the thrill of possibly getting the Big Fish of the offseason. It’s not as fun as the game itself, but it’ll do in a pinch.
In these overnight hours, let’s recap just who’s offering what, according to whom:
- First, Jon Heyman on Wednesday said the Yankees had the edge because they seemed more likely to offer either Ian Kennedy or Phil Hughes with Melky Cabrera, plus another prospect or two. The Sox, refusing to give up more than one of their Big Three, were refusing to include Jacoby Ellsbury in a package that otherwise included Jon Lester.
- Thursday morning, however, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported the Sox were front-runners with an offer of Coco Crisp, Lester, Jed Lowrie and Justin Masterson, and saying the Yankees did not have enough (offer enough?) 2008-ready prospects to do a deal.
- Later, Buster Olney partially confirmed that report, replacing Masterson with Michael Bowden, but adding the fourth player was "in flux."
- Heyman returned Thursday afternoon, still giving the Yanks the edge, noting the Twins were dead-set on getting Ellsbury from Boston, and that Boston was dead-set against including him.
- Nick Cafardo jumped in Thursday night to essentially confirm Olney’s report that the Sox preferred to lose Bowden over Masterson, adding that Lowrie (if the Charlie Walter’s and Olney’s sources were correct) is Boston’s attempt to make up for not including Ellsbury.
- Cafardo also threw in an interesting name to the Yankee-Twins talks: Negotiations had been centering on Cabrera and Robinson Cano, Cafardo said. No mention of any of the Big Three. Cafardo’s blog post seemed to indicate the Red Sox were both further along and better positioned to get the deal done — to the point that he checked with Santana’s agent (or people who know him) to see whether negotiations with him had begun.
- Not so fast, though. Later Thursday night, Jack Curry entered the fray to definitively state the Yankees had offered Kennedy, Cabrera and a prospect, which Curry thinks is Jose Tabata. The Yankees, similarly to the Red Sox, said they did not want to trade either of the other two if they were giving up one — but only Joba Chamberlain was declared "untouchable." The Twins, of course, insist that Hughes be part of the deal, just as they seem to insist Ellsbury be part of a deal with Boston.
- Curry said the Yankees think if they include Hughes, the deal would get done. Similarly, everyone is indicating if the Sox add Ellsbury (presumably replacing Crisp and Lowrie), that deal would get done.
So here’s what we have from all that:
- Sox: Coco Crisp, Jon Lester, Jed Lowrie, Michael Bowden (maybe)
- Yanks: Melky Cabrera, Ian Kennedy, Jose Tabata (maybe)
Which side will blink first and include the player they don’t want to include? And how much then will Santana force them to pay?
* Unless the Yankees end up with Johan Santana. And another HT to MLBTradeRumors.