Santana market heats up

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The Twins have opened trade discussions for Johan Santana by asking the Yankees for a package of at least three young players that would include one of their three top starters -- Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy -- plus center fielder Melky Cabrera.

The Twins are talking with several teams and are asking for a large return for their two-time Cy Young winner. From Boston, they asked about one of two top young pitchers -- Clay Buchholz or Jon Lester -- plus center field prodigy Jacoby Ellsbury, league sources told

The Mets, Dodgers, Angels and Mariners are seen as other potential big players for Santana, who went 15-13 this season with a 3.33 ERA. The Twins began canvassing prospective suitors after their extension offer of $80 million over four years fell well short of Santana's expectations. The 28-year-old ace with the 93-44 career record is slated to make $13.25 million in 2008 and is eligible for free agency after the season.

Santana has a full no-trade clause and can control where he goes. Word is, he has interest in New York, but the Red Sox, Dodgers and Angels have to be considered attractive options.

While talks are said to be in the preliminary stages, there could be the makings for a deal with the Yankees. They are telling people that Chamberlain is untouchable, but if there's a chance to get Santana, they might consider moving either Hughes or Kennedy. The stock of all three pitchers rose this year as they made their major-league debuts.

The Red Sox are believed to have made Ellsbury off-limits, which could complicate their chances. They have Coco Crisp to offer, but the Twins would likely prefer the Yankees' Cabrera to Crisp. Boston is unlikely to surrender Buchholz, who threw a no-hitter as a rookie this year, but might have to consider giving up Lester if they have a chance at Santana.

The Mets' chances may be hindered by the falling stock of their top pitching prospects, Mike Pelfrey and Philip Humber.

The Dodgers and Angels have a lot of top prospects. But top Dodgers people have been quoted lately suggesting they may not make any major player moves and the Angels are involved in talks regarding star third baseman Miguel Cabrera.