“MLB doesn’t like it, but only a handful of teams, the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Angels and maybe the Dodgers, can pay what Johan Santana is looking for,” an unnamed source tells the NY Post’s Joel Sherman. “But that’s the way it is because he is looking for $120 million for six years and he is the best pitcher in the game.” Which doesn’t, I presume, make Barry Zito the 2nd best pitcher in baseball.

Santana will dominate the Winter Meetings that open Sunday in Nashville. After center fielders Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand, the free agent market is thin. So, Santana, who will turn 29 in March, will be in the stale air of the Opryland Hotel.

The Yankees will be involved heavily in talks with the Twins for the career 93-44 pitcher who can be a free agent after the 2008 season. Any team willing to give up the bevy of young talent the Twins are looking for will make sure to negotiate a deal with Santana, who has a no-trade clause, before making the deal. He is slated to make $13.5 million next year.

Though the Yankees certainly have the money – they have spent $388 million this offseason to bring back Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera, Bobby Abreu and Rodriguez – they may not have the talent to land Santana. It generally is assumed throughout baseball that the Yankees won’t include Joba Chamberlain in a deal. But will a package of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera, who could replace Torii Hunter in center, be enough to top other clubs?

Given the Twins will be opening a new ballpark without either Hunter or Santana, they’re under considerable pressure to hold out for a huge package. Perhaps Hughes, Kennedy, Cabrera and John Sterling’s entire Playbill collection.