From the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Charley Waters

A little birdie says the Boston Red Sox have become the favorite in the Johan Santana trade sweepstakes.

The Twins would receive four players for the Twins’ two-time Cy Young Award winner, including center fielder Coco Crisp, 28.

Others would be shortstop prospect Jed Lowrie, 23; left-handed pitcher Jon Lester, 23; and right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson (above), 22.

Before a deal could be made, the Red Sox would have to have time to negotiate a contract extension with Santana, 28, who can become a free agent after next season and could have a market value as high as $150 million over six years.

Lowrie did not play in the major leagues this year but is considered ready and is a good-fielding shortstop who also can hit. Lowrie had a slugging percentage of .500 at Class AA and Class AAA this year.

Though not possessing the ability to speak with birds, the Boston Herald’s Tony Massarotti has a bit more information to offer :

The bottom line is that Ellsbury, Buchholz or Lester could be in any package for Santana, but that two (or more) of them will not go in the deal.

According to one major league source, the Twins are looking for a package of players that includes a pitcher, a positional player and one or two prospects. In the case of the Red Sox, Minnesota™s requests translate into something like this: Buchholz or Lester; Ellsbury; and one or two minor leaguers, perhaps someone like Justin Masterson.

Is that a lot to pay? You bet it is, which is why the deal hasn™t happened yet.

Yankee president Gene Michael told ESPN NY’s Max Kellerman earlier today the Bombers are willing to part with Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy in order to obtain Santana, though you’d have to figure one or both would be on offer for a serious discussion to take place.

Possibly a smart bit of dumpster diving on the part of Tampa in signing former Angels/Tigers closer Troy Percival to a two-year deal. After missing all of the 2006 season and retiring in April of last year, Percival looked pretty sharp for Memphis before compiling a 1.80 ERA in 40 innings for the parent Cardinals later in ’07.