The Yankees have set a Monday deadline for the Twins to respond to their proposed trade of top young pitcher Phil Hughes, center fielder Melky Cabrera and a third prospect for superstar pitcher Johan Santana, has learned.

So assuming the Yankees strictly stick to their deadline, it is very likely there will be a resolution regarding Santana -- widely considered baseball's best pitcher -- by the end of Monday.

The Yankees and Red Sox are seen as the most serious players for Santana, and the Twins need both competing for the star lefthander for them to get their best deal. So it's hard to see the Twins letting one of the teams out of the Santana Sweepstakes, assuming the Twins do trade him.

The Twins could also decide to hold onto Santana, but most baseball people still believe he will be dealt this winter.

The Yankees and Red Sox may be the only two teams that can reasonably afford Santana, who's expected to garner a five or six-year extension for more than $20 million a year.

The Red Sox recently told the Twins they would include either fine young lefthander Jon Lester or top center field prospect Jacoby Ellsbury in a trade for Santana but appear unwilling at this point to combine both players, as Minnesota requested. The Twins would also take pitcher Clay Buchholz as a substitute for Ellsbury or Lester as long as they get two of those three players. The Red Sox offered outfielder Coco Crisp and shortstop prospect Jed Lowrie with Lester, and have also discussed pitcher Justin Masterson.

After receiving word of the Monday deadline late Saturday, the Twins apparently hadn't gotten back to the Yankees by Sunday afternoon. Minnesota originally requested Hughes and Cabrera. However, apparently there's a difference of opinion over the third player in the deal.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman gave Twins GM Bill Smith a list of prospects they'd be willing to include with Hughes and Cabrera, and Cashman made clear at that time that pitchers Ian Kennedy and Alan Horne and outfielder Austin Jackson would not be included in their Hughes-Cabrera proposal.

Santana, a two-time Cy Young winner who has full no-trade powers, would be expected to approve a trade to either the Yankees or Red Sox, provided they can come to a contract extension. Regardless, either team would make any trade contingent on extending him.

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