The behind-the-scenes story of trading Johan Santana

The anti-Twins move in the wake of the Johan Santana deal probably won’t ease if Bob Klapisch’s behind-the-scenes story of how it unfolded gets much play here in Twins Territory.

Klapisch, of the Bergen Record, paints the picture of a panic-stricken Twins general manager trying to make a deal, any deal, in a series of phone calls earlier this week.

The Yankees considered the idea, but only briefly and not seriously. Their passion for Santana started waning as far back as December, when Andy Pettitte announced he was returning to the Bronx. The Yankees’ internal straw vote was unanimous: The Twins had waited too long. On Tuesday Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman told Smith he was passing on the deal, prompting the Twins to call the Red Sox. Equally devastating news awaited. Both Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester were unavailable.

Klapisch says the deal with the Yankees started to go south in December when Andy Pettite, the Yankees ace, hinted he’d like to return. That was right around the time the Yankees had offered a pile of talent for Santana, and Twins GM Bill Smith overplayed the hand Santana had dealt him.

But Smith could’ve and should’ve waited longer. One key injury in spring training, and any of Santana’s suitors would’ve come begging. But the rookie GM feared Santana wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause after spring training began; Smith lost his nerve, just as he didn’t have the professional intuition to deal for Hughes when he could have.

Late this afternoon, the Mets and Santana completed negotiations for a new contract.

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