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Yankees rumors: New York monitoring Johan Santana's rehab

The club's top target is still Masahiro Tanaka, but they've also got eyes on the former Mets and Twins lefty.

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are one of a number of teams keeping an eye on the rehab of free-agent starter Johan Santana, reports Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger.

Santana, 34, is coming off of two major shoulder operations that limited him to just 21 starts over his final three seasons with the Mets. The left-hander missed all of 2011 recovering from a tear of his anterior capsule, returned long enough in 2012 to throw the franchise's first no-hitter, then re-tore the capsule and went back under the knife in early 2013.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner began working on a throwing program at the start of October, but has still yet to get back on a mound; he started throwing from a distance of 90 feet towards the end of November. McCullough speculates that Santana could audition for clubs near his home in Fort Myers, Florida before spring camps open in February, but he doesn't give a hard timeline for if/when that might actually happen.

The Yankees have had considerable luck the last few years taking flyers on aging starters whose best years were thought to be behind them -- e.g. Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia -- so it wouldn't seem to be a stretch for the club to go after Santana. However, the club's primary focus for the time being remains on Masahiro Tanaka, who is currently in Los Angeles to meet with teams for the final two weeks of his negotiating window. (The Yankees may have already had their meeting with Tanaka and agent Casey Close, per McCullough.)

If the Bombers lose out in the Tanaka sweepstakes, they could go after the other big names still available -- Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez -- but their interest in those arms is said to be "limited." That could leave the door open for someone like Santana, who is unlikely to net more than a minor-league deal given his major health concerns.

The Twins, Mets, Rays, Orioles, Royals, Pirates and Brewers have also shown interest in Santana's recovery this winter, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN. There is a rumor that Santana already has a number of minor-league offers on the table, but it seems unlikely he'll make a decision without at least attempting to get back on a mound first.