No fifth year for Beckett?
If Red Sox ace Josh Beckett can avoid free agency and sign a new pact with the team he has pitched for since 2006, it apparently won’t be for the same length as the five-year deal John Lackey agreed upon back in December.
ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes, citing a source with “knowledge of the negotiations”, reported Saturday night that the Red Sox won’t go past four years in their negotiations with Beckett.
However, the sides are still believed to be negotiating, as the Red Sox would like to keep Beckett and the right-hander has a desire to stay in Boston long-term.
Both Beckett and the club have stood by their vow to keep all negotiations private. There have been no public words from either side about the status of talks that could prevent Beckett from reaching free agency for the first time in his career following the 2010 season.
Beckett will start for the Red Sox in the first game of Major League Baseball’s 2010 season – on the night of April 4 at Fenway against the New York Yankees.
Though it has been Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein’s policy not to go five years for a free agent starter, he made an exception on Lackey, in large part because A.J. Burnett had set a bench-mark of sorts when he signed for that length with the Yankees in Dec., 2008.
According to the ESPN report, concerns about the long-term health of Beckett’s right shoulder is the main reason the Red Sox are hesitant to go five years.
Beckett, who turns 30 on May 15, is 65-34 with a 4.05 ERA in 122 starts for the Red Sox. In his career, he is 106-68 with a 3.79 ERA. The righty forever notched a place in Boston’s postseason lore by going 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in October of 2007, lifting the Red Sox to a World Series championship. Beckett was equally heroic in leading the Marlins to a World Series title in 2003, firing a shutout against the Yankees on three days rest in clinching Game 6.