The understatement of the Hot Stove League may be the headline on a La Velle E. Neal III article from Saturday. It asks, “Twins softening demands for Santana?”
Now, on the surface, that seems like a legitimate question to ask, but when you look at what Neal wrote, the answer is glaringly obviously yes.
For instance, indications earlier in the off-season were that the Twins wanted the Yankees to include righthanded pitching prospect Ian Kennedy in a package led by prized young righthander Phil Hughes and center fielder Melky Cabrera. Now it’s believed that the Twins are willing to accept other players instead of Kennedy. Recent reports have righthander Jeff Marquez as part of the deal.
Lefthander Kei Igawa, who floundered to a 2-3 record and 6.25 ERA in his first year after arriving from Japan, also has been mentioned in talks with the Yankees, perhaps as a fourth player in the package. His salary — $4 million annually over the next four seasons — shouldn’t be a problem for a club whose payroll would drop under $50 million if Santana is traded.
Any time you can get a team to drop its demands from Ian Kennedy to Kei Igawa, the demands are most definitely softening. While I still don’t want to see the Yanks shell out all of the prospects for one year of Santana, I would certainly get a good laugh out of things if Kei Igawa ends up being the missing fourth piece for the Twins.
If Bill Smith actually knew what he were doing, he would have laughed the Yankees out of the room when Kei Igawa’s name came up. Or he could said, “No way. No how. Not interested.” But if we’ve learned one thing this off-season, it’s that Bill Smith isn’t exactly the most confident of General Managers.