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.