FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Almost four months after obtaining him in a deal, the Red Sox still don't have a contract extension done with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. But his agent, in town to meet with Red Sox management Tuesday, said a new deal is likely only weeks away.
Negotiations broke down in the 48-hour window the sides had in the first week of December, but there was an understanding even then that Gonzalez was seeking a seven-year, 154 million deal.
That, of course, would represent the second-biggest deal ever given by the Red Sox and the biggest ever given by the current ownership group.
John Boggs, who represents Gonzalez, met with general manager Theo Epstein and assistant GM Ben Cherrington and came away with the meeting filled with optimism.
"It was a very positive meeting,'' said Boggs. "At the end of the day, everything has been as expected. I just think it's going to move very positively in the direction of probably trying to get something done sometime in April.''
As has been widely reported, there's an accounting and payroll benefit for the Red Sox to announce a new extension after April 1, Opening Day.
If the Sox make a deal official before then, the average annual value of the entire deal would be applied toward their payroll for 2011. If it's completed after April 1, the Sox get to use Gonzalez's budget-friendly 2011 salary of 6.25 million.
Nonetheless, Boggs and the Red Sox continue to maintain that the lone holdup is the slugger's health. He underwent surgery last October to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and, because of that, didn't appear in a Grapefruit League game until March 12, two weeks after exhibition games began.
"The main thing,'' said Boggs, "is the health issue. When he's seen to be every day, playing competitively in a regular season, I think the Red Sox are going to have a degree of comfort and obviously, that will be a time to probably get something done.
"Prudently, probably, on their part, they just want to see him play back-to-back-to-back-to-back, get into the season and say, 'OK, we're good to go.' ''
Asked for a specific timetable, Boggs said: "I would anticipate something around April. When in April, I don't know. It could be the beginning, middle, end -- but that's it. That's really the parameters we're looking it. If something drags it on past that, then, yeah, we'll probably have to revisit a lot of things. But I don't anticipate that at all.''
Boggs emphasized that no new ground was broken during Tuesday's meeting and that it was merely a continuation of where they left off in December and hinted that there's a degree of inevitability to an extension.
"I would be very surprised if a deal didn't get done,'' he said. "You can always be surprised in life, but I would be very surprised. There were very positive feelings on both sides. There's a lot of relationships in the past. I've deal with Theo a lot. I've dealt with Larry Lucchino a lot. John Henry was the first owner Adrian played for with the Florida Marlins. There's so many relationships involved here that if you can't have an agreement, I probably can't have one with anyone.''
Beyond the general parameters in place, Boggs said there's other work to do before a deal is in place, covering performance bonuses, award incentives and other "nuanced" parts of the deal.
But he reiterated that Gonzalez isn't concerned that he signing months ahead of two other potential free agent first basemen -- Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
"Adrian made it perfectly clear in December where his bottom line was and if they were ready to accept his bottom line, he wasn't going to play those logistic options . . . Adrian knew what it was going to take, bottom line. He wasn't concerned with chasing after or breaking salary records. He just wants to be fairly compensated.''