General Red Sox

Edes: Sox Holding The Line At 4 Years For Beckett

William Mark Felt, Sr. A source has given Gordon Edes the lowdown on the Josh Beckett negotiations:

Talks are ongoing for a contract extension for Josh Beckett, who is scheduled to pitch the regular-season opener next Sunday night at Fenway Park against the New York Yankees.

But it turns out that the benchmark for a new deal will not be the five-year, $82.5 million contract the Sox gave free agent John Lackey this winter, according to a source with knowledge of the negotiations. The Sox will not go beyond four years in a deal for Beckett, the source said.

At 30, Beckett is a year younger than Lackey, but it appears that long-term concerns about Beckett’s right shoulder have dissuaded the Red Sox from going to a fifth year with Beckett, whose three-year, $30 million extension he agreed to in 2006 expires at the end of the season.

Edes concludes the report with subtle irony:

Beckett and the Red Sox have both pledged not to discuss negotiations.

Has someone on one of the two sides broken this pledge? We are hearing about a detail of the negotiations, but I suppose this doesn't necessarily add up to a "discussion". Still, who leaked this to Edes and why? Or does it matter?

If this report is true, it will be interesting to see if they can reach an agreement that respects the Sox's parameters. Fans might think it's crazy for the Sox to be willing to give more years and more money (in total) to Lackey, who has been injured more recently than Beckett and does not have his upside, but the context here matters a lot. Beckett, unlike Lackey this past offseason, is not a free agent yet. Even if he and his agent think they can get the five years from other teams in the 2011 offseason, Beckett has to factor in the risk of pitching one more year without the security of a new long-term deal. An injury or an awful year performance-wise could cost the righty big time.

3 replies on “Edes: Sox Holding The Line At 4 Years For Beckett”

A lot depends on the context, as you say. What if it’s a five-year extension from the date the deal is signed? Then it’s only a four-year deal from the original date of free agency.
Or the Sox may be offering four years with a similar overall value (4/$80M), which would probably be better than Beckett could get in free agency.
Orrrr the Sox are only offering four guaranteed years with a fifth year vesting based on innings pitched in Year 4. Lots of ways for the Sox to “offer four years” while keeping Beckett happy.

Seems like Beckett’s agent would have reason to leak this information.
I don’t see how the Sox can justify a shorter deal for Beckett than for Lackey. But I’m not so sure they’re different pitchers:
Last four years – 2006-2009:
Lackey: 781 IP, 129 ERA+, 75 HR, 1.243 WHIP, 3.02 K:BB
Becket: 792 IP, 116 ERA+, 96 HR, 1.205 WHIP, 3.56 K:BB
The last three years, selectively throwing out Beckett’s adjustment to AL ball, are even closer: 129 ERA+ in 563 IP (Lackey) to 127 ERA+ in 587 IP (Beckett).
Seems like that’s perfect fodder for Beckett’s agent. The problem though, and why I can see the Sox negotiating tough, is Lackey has had trouble with his elbow while Beckett has had trouble with his shoulder. The former can be fixed more easily. And the Sox would seem to have a better understanding of Beckett’s shoulder than anyone.

Per Buster Onley, the four year deal is in the neighborhood value of the deal is about 17M per year, and the only hold-ups right now is some of the language within the contract, but the deal is expected to be done this week.
I happen to think it’s a good move on both parts, with obvious pros and cons for both sides, but if he’s happy in Boston, it makes sense for both parties.

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