Clock continues to tick on Yankees’ talks for Johan Santana

New Twins general manager Bill Smith didn’t seem concerned about the deadline.

;NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – The New York Yankees appeared set to pull out of trade talks for Johan Santana unless the Minnesota Twins were prepared to strike a deal late Monday night.

“I want to get it done by tonight, one way or another,” Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said as he left Legends Field, the team’s spring training home in Tampa, Fla. “I’m waiting for a meeting in Nashville, and then Brian will give me a call.”

As Steinbrenner was speaking, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was talking to reporters in the Yankees’ suite at the sprawling Opryland Hotel, where the four-day winter meetings began. Cashman said he had not yet spoken with the Twins but wouldn’t say whether he planned to later Monday.

New Twins general manager Bill Smith didn’t seem concerned about the deadline. Of course, baseball teams let deadlines pass all the time only to resume talks later.

“We’ve got good players. We have players that maybe other clubs would like to acquire,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of years where we keep going over and picking up the phone receiver to be make sure the dial tone was still (there). We couldn’t get the phone to ring.”

That’s not a problem these days, with the Yankees and Boston Red Sox both pursuing Santana, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who can become a free agent after next season, and other teams inquiring about closer Joe Nathan.

While Cashman usually is surrounded by media, even with the Santana spotlight on him Smith leads a low-key existence.

“I passed through the lobby. I can still go under the radar. There aren’t many people who know who the heck I am,” he said.

New York offered pitcher Phil Hughes, center fielder Melky Cabrera and a midlevel prospect. The Red Sox are thought to have offered Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury – but only one of them – as part of a deal.

Santana’s agent, Peter Greenberg, said his client was angered by a report that he has told the Twins to only trade him to the Yankees or Red Sox. Santana has made no such request, Greenberg said, and also hasn’t ruled out returning to the Twins next season.

“He was very adamant about that. He wanted to make sure we clarified that. That upset him,” Greenberg said. “He’s been very clear all along that he wants Bill to make the best deal possible.”

While the Yankees pressed for a decision, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein didn’t express any time pressure. He said there was no expiration date on any of his trade talks.

“I think we’ve only done that when we thought it was in our best interest,” Epstein said. “We don’t have current discussions ongoing for which I think that would be in our best interest. We’re pretty content with where we are and we don’t think anything major is getting held up.”

New York did get a left-hander Monday: Andy Pettitte decided to pitch for the Yankees next season rather than retire.

Pettitte’s agent, Randy Hendricks, said Monday that the 35-year-old lefty had started telling teammates Sunday. Hendricks then informed Cashman of the news.

Hendricks said Yankees captain Derek Jeter and catcher Jorge Posada had lobbied Pettitte to return, and the pitcher consulted his wife.

“Players such as Jeter and Posada told him how much they needed him back, as did Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi,” Hendricks said. “Andy decided this weekend that he didn’t want to keep the Yankees on hold as they sought to determine their team for next year.”