NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -If the New York Mets are going to acquire a proven starting pitcher this offseason, they might have to wait awhile.
Other teams seem content to wait for the conclusion of the Johan Santana sweepstakes before putting their starters up for bid. The World Series champion Boston Red Sox appeared to be the front-runners to land Minnesota's ace, who can become a free agent after next season. If he gets traded, teams that miss out on Santana could start making attractive offers for other pitchers on the market.
Any club that strikes a deal for Santana probably would want a 72-hour window to try and sign him to a long-term contract. That leaves the Mets playing a waiting game because they're not thought to be serious contenders for Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner.
``You don't want to commit to the free agents until you know you're a player or not a player on the potential trades that are out there,'' Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Tuesday at the winter meetings. ``We could be players, but at what price?''
Minaya acknowledged he had some meetings Tuesday, but wouldn't say whether the Mets made an offer to Baltimore for left-hander Erik Bedard. The Mets also are thought to be interested in Oakland's Dan Haren and Joe Blanton.
``We did make some progress. Of course, progress can be just having dialogue,'' Minaya said.
New York also is likely to explore a potential deal for free agent Livan Hernandez, the half brother of Mets pitcher Orlando Hernandez.
The Mets came out winners in one sense Tuesday: The Marlins and Tigers reached a preliminary agreement on a blockbuster trade that would send slugger Miguel Cabrera and left-hander Dontrelle Willis from Florida to Detroit - and out of New York's division.
``That's two impact players that the Tigers would be able to get,'' Minaya said. ``Better than staying in the National League East, if that's the case.''
In return, the Marlins receive a package of six players, including two highly rated prospects: left-hander Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin. The deal is subject to the players passing physicals.
Without Cabrera and Willis, the only big stars on Florida's small-budget roster, the Marlins would seem a choice opponent for New York.
But there's another way to look at the deal, too: One of the best pitchers available just got moved, and the Mets missed out.

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