Red Sox complete deal for Gonzalez

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Red Sox complete deal for Gonzalez

By SeanMcAdam
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- In a weekend as bizarre as any in recent franchise history, the Red Sox Sunday decided to go through with their blockbuster deal for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, despite failing to get him signed to a contract extension by the prescribed deadline.

The trade will be formally announced Monday at 11 a.m. at Fenway Park, with Gonzalez present -- and the rest of the baseball world already gathered here for the start of the annual winter meetings.

General manager Theo Epstein and Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, worked through Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday morning before adjourning at 2 p.m. without an agreement.

Indications were, however, that the sides made enough progress in their talks to form the framework of a deal. Gonzalez can become a free agent after 2011 unless signed to an extension.

There had been speculation that the trade, completed Friday, would be voided in the absence of a contract. But in the end, the Sox elected to send Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later in exchange for Gonzalez, a 28-year-old slugger whom the Sox havepursued for some time.

Epstein and Boggs reportedly differed on their expectations for a new long-term deal, with the former looking for a deal of shorter duration, while Boggs sought a deal of at least six years with an average annual value (AAV) of 25 million.

The 25 million AAV would equal the contract given to Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard (five years, 125 million) last spring.

While there's risk involved for the Red Sox in trading three prospects for a player who is currently under their control for just one season, there are also some benefits to waiting to get a deal done.

For one thing, the team can more closely evaluate Gonzalez's health following October surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Gonzalez will not be cleared to resume full baseball activities until at least February. He passed a physical Saturday at Massachusetts General Hospital, but the shoulder has not completely healed from the procedure.

For another, should the Sox reach agreement on a deal with Gonzalez after the start of the season, there would be a significant accounting benefit. Under baseball's rules, contracts signed after Opening Day are not counted toward that year's luxury tax threshold.

If the Sox were to sign Gonzalez to a deal before the start of the season, the AAV of that new deal would count toward the 2011 threshold.

That's a critical difference for the Sox, since, if Gonzalez were to be unsigned past 2011 when the season begins, his relatively modest 6.25 million salary would be the number counted toward the luxury tax. If, on the other hand, Gonzalez signed a mega-deal before Opening Day, he would have a luxury tax number in excess of 20 million -- or the average annual value of the new contract.

Keeping Gonzalez off the books past Opening Day would also give the club some flexibility in pursuing other free agents this week and throughout the rest of the offseason.

One name the Sox can now cross of their list is outfielder Jayson Werth, who shocked the baseball world by agreeing to a stunning seven-year, 126 million deal with the Washington Nationals.

Werth had been one of two free-agent outfielders the Sox courted last week prior to the acquisition of Gonzalez. Epstein and manager Terry Francona visited Werth Wednesday in Chicago and Carl Crawford Tuesday night in Houston.

Crawford remains unsigned, but the number of teams interested in him (Texas, Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees, Red Sox), coupled with Werth's contract, is sure to send Crawford's demands to at least eight years, and perhaps ashigh at 160 million or more.

Crawford is more than two years younger than Werth and regarded by most as a more skilled player than Werth.

Under John Henry's ownership, the Red Sox have not given out a contract longer than six years (Daisuke Matsuzaka), or one richer than 82.5 million (John Lackey).

Given the difficulty the Sox had in trying to reach an agreement with Gonzalez, it's hard to believe they would be willing to spend at least that much -- or more -- on Crawford, especially with other teams in on the bidding.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pomeranz gives up three runs in Red Sox loss to Blue Jays

Pomeranz gives up three runs in Red Sox loss to Blue Jays

Starter Drew Pomeranz gives up three runs on five hits in four innings of work in the Red Sox' 3-2 loss to the Blue Jays on Friday.

Lou Merloni breaks down Pomeranz's start and explains why he should be in the starting rotation to begin the season.

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

Sox' lack of homegrown starters an understandable problem to Yanks' Cashman

The dearth of homegrown starting pitching for the Red Sox is talked about almost as much as every Tom Brady post on Instagram.

Red Sox fans may take some solace in knowing their team isn’t the only one dealing with this problem.

In an interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman didn’t talk about his team’s pitching problems in context of the Red Sox. But the explanation the longtime Yanks boss offered should sound familiar. 

In the biggest of markets, time to develop properly is scarce.

“Yeah. It's a fact,” Cashman said when asked if criticism of their pitching development was fair. “I think part of the process has been certainly where we draft. Because we've had a lot of success, we've not been allowed to tank and go off the board and therefore get access to some of the high-end stuff that plays out to be impactful. Part of it is we can't get out of our own way because we don't have the patience to let guys finish off their development, because if you possess some unique ability that stands out above everybody else -- whether it was Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, now [Luis] Severino and before that [Bryan] Mitchell and Shane Greene -- we're pulling them up before their development is finished.

“Teams like Tampa Bay, for instance, they're going to wait until they have their four pitches down and their innings limits are all exceeded at the minor-league level; they're very disciplined in that approach as they finish off their starters. For us, if I'm looking at my owner and he says, ‘What's our best team we can take north?’ 

“Well, ‘We could take this guy; he's not necessarily 100 percent finished off, but we can stick him in our 'pen. He can be in the back end of our rotation, because he's better than some of the guys we already have,’ and then you cut corners, so I think that probably plays a role in it.”

Not everything is circumstantial, though -- or a deflection. 

“And sometimes we don't make the right decisions, either, when we're making draft selections and signings and stuff like that,” Cashman continued. “On top of it all, playing in New York is a lot different than playing anywhere else.”

We’ve heard that last part about Boston too, here and there.

Cashman was complimentary of his current Sox counterpart, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, whose team Cashman has compared to the Golden State Warriors.

On his feelings when he first heard the Sox were getting Chris Sale:

“When that trade was consummated, that was the first thing I thought about, which was, 'Wow, look at what they've done,' ” Cashman said. “I know how it's going to play out for them. Listen, Steve Kerr does a great job managing that team -- oh, I mean John Farrell. It's a lot of talent and with talent comes pressure to perform. I think Dave Dombrowski has done everything he possibly can to provide that city with a world championship team. They've got 162 games to show it.”