No contract, but is it still a deal?

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No contract, but is it still a deal?

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Two years ago, the Red Sox were outbid by the New York Yankees for free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, a move that left both a sizeable hole in the Red Sox lineup and their pysche, having been beaten by their longtime rivals.

Players like Teixeira, who can impact a team both offensively and defensively, are rare and the feeling at the time was the Red Sox missed out on a chance to obtain a game-changing, middle-of-the-order force.

With the pending acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox have made up for their swing-and-miss on Teixeira, though in an least one way, the price they paid was higher.

According to baseball sources, the Sox have a deal in place to obtain the 28-year-old Gonzalez for a package that includes three top prospects -- Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes along with a fourth player to be named later.

The trade was first reported by ESPN.com

The deal is apparently contingent on Gonzalez passing a physical and agreeing to a contract extension, the latter of which is expected to rival the deal signed by Teixiera with the Yankees (eight years, 180 million). Gonzalez is otherwise eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

Major League Baseball has granted the Red Sox and Gonzalez' agent, John Boggs, a window until 2 p.m. Sunday to work out a contract extension.

According to an industry source, Gonzalez underwent a complete physical Saturday morning in Boston, and while the shoulder is still healing, "should be fine."

As recently as three weeks ago, general manager Theo Epstein doubted that the Padres would deal Gonzalez this winter, believing that the surgical procedure on the first baseman's right shoulder would postpone serious trade talk until teams could see for themselves that Gonzalez was fully healthy.

Epstein also believed that it was more likely that the Red Sox would sign Gonzalez as a free agent rather than involve themselves in any bidding war next July. The reason: the Sox far preferred to sign Gonzalez and lose only compensation draft picks.

The Sox were further emboldened by the knowledge that, this time out, they would not have to compete with the Yankees. With Teixeira signed for six more years, they would have neither a position nor the interest for Gonzalez.

But within the last 10 days, the landscape began to shift, and with it, Epstein's approach. As more and more teams begin approaching San Diego GM Jed Hoyer, Epstein sensed that the time was now.

In between jetting around the country to visit with prospective free agents Carl Crawford (Tuesday night in Houston) and Jayson Werth (Wednesday night in Chicago), talks intensified for Gonzalez.

After initially refusing to include pitching prospect Casey Kelly, the Sox came to the realization that a deal could not be made without him. The Padres, seeking an eventual replacement for Gonzalez at first base, also wanted Rizzo, and the athletic Reymond Fuentes, the last first-round pick by Jason McLeod, the former Red Sox scouting director, now Hoyer's assistant in San Diego.

Having satisfied the Padres, the Red Sox must now satisfy Gonzalez and agent John Boggs on a contract extension.

It seems unlikely that there had not been at least some communication, however preliminary and informal, between Boggs and the Red Sox on what Gonzalez would be looking for.

When Hoyer and Boggs met after the 2010 season to see what Gonzalez would demand in a contract extension, Hoyer was told that the deals signed by fellow first basemen Ryan Howard and Teixeira would be good comparisons.

That was enough for Hoyer and San Diego CEO Jeff Moorad, who understood that the Padres' payroll couldn't handle a player making more than 20 million annually.

The decision to shop Gonzalez, then, became a matter of "when," and not "if."

At the GM meetings three weeks ago, Hoyer said the surgery on Gonzalez wouldn't necessarily stall trade talks, emphasizing that while Gonzalez wouldn't be 100 percent until March, he had managed to play the final four months of the year while injured and without much of an impact on his production.

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

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

New MLB labor deal: All-Star Game no longer determines home field in World Series

IRVING, Texas -- Baseball players and owners reached a tentative agreement on a five-year labor contract Wednesday night, a deal that will extend the sport's industrial peace to 26 years since the ruinous fights in the first two decades of free agency.

After days of near round-the-clock talks, negotiators reached a verbal agreement about 3 1/2 hours before the expiration of the current pact. Then they worked to draft a memorandum of understanding, which must be ratified by both sides.

"It's great! Another five years of uninterrupted baseball," Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt said in a text message.

In announcing the agreement, Major League Baseball and the players' association said they will make specific terms available when drafting is complete.

"Happy it's done, and baseball is back on," Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy said.

As part of the deal, the experiment of having the All-Star Game determine which league gets home-field advantage in the World Series will end after 14 years, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been signed.

Instead, the pennant winner with the better regular-season record will open the Series at home.

Another important change: The minimum time for a stint on the disabled list will be reduced from 15 days to 10.

The luxury tax threshold rises from $189 million to $195 million next year, $197 million in 2018, $206 million in 2019, $209 million in 2020 and $210 million in 2021.

Tax rates increase from 17.5 percent to 20 percent for first offenders, remain at 30 percent for second offenders and rise from 40 percent to 50 percent for third offenders. There is a new surtax of 12 percent for teams $20 million to $40 million above the threshold, 42.5 percent for first offenders more than $40 million above the threshold and 45 percent for subsequent offenders more than $40 million above.

Union head Tony Clark, presiding over a negotiation for the first time, said in a statement the deal "will benefit all involved in the game and leaves the game better for those who follow."

Key changes involve the qualifying offers clubs can make to their former players after they become free agents - the figure was $17.2 million this year. If a player turns down the offer and signs elsewhere, his new team forfeits an amateur draft pick, which usually had been in the first round under the old deal.

Under the new rules, a player can receive a qualifying offer only once in his career and will have 10 days to consider it instead of seven. A club signing a player who declined a qualifying offer would lose its third-highest amateur draft pick if it is a revenue-sharing receiver, its second- and fifth-highest picks (plus a loss of $1 million in its international draft pool) if it pays luxury tax for the just-ended season, and its second-highest pick (plus $500,000 in the international draft pool) if it is any other team.

A club losing a free agent who passed up a qualifying offer would receive an extra selection after the first round of the next draft if the player signed a contract for $50 million or more and after competitive balance round B if under $50 million. However, if that team pays luxury tax, the extra draft pick would drop to after the fourth round.

Among other details:

-For a team $40 million or more in excess of the luxury tax threshold, its highest selection in the next amateur draft will drop 10 places.

-While management failed to obtain an international draft of amateurs residing outside the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, it did get a hard cap on each team's annual bonus pool for those players starting at $4.75 million for the signing period that begins next July 2.

-There is no change to limits on active rosters, which remain at 25 for most of the season and 40 from Sept. 1 on.

-Smokeless tobacco will be banned for all new players, those who currently do not have at least one day of major league service.

-The regular season will expand from 183 days to 187 starting in 2018, creating four more scheduled off days. There are additional limitations on the start times of night games on getaway days.

-The minimum salary rises from $507,500 to $535,000 next year, $545,000 in 2018 and $555,000 in 2019, with cost-of-living increases the following two years; the minor league minimum for a player appearing on the 40-man roster for at least the second time goes up from $82,700 to $86,500 next year, $88,000 in 2018 and $89,500 in 2019, followed by cost-of-living raises.

-The drop-off in slot values in the first round of the amateur draft will be lessened.

-Oakland's revenue-sharing funds will be cut to 75 percent next year, 50 percent in 2018, 25 percent in 2019 and then phased out.

-As part of the drug agreement, there will be increased testing, players will not be credited with major league service time during suspensions, and biomarker testing for HGH will begin next year.

Negotiators met through most of Tuesday night in an effort to increase momentum in the talks, which began during spring training. This is the third straight time the sides reached a new agreement before the old contract expired, but a deal was struck eight weeks in advance in 2006 and three weeks ahead of expiration in 2011.

Talks took place at a hotel outside Dallas where the players' association held its annual executive board meeting.

Clark, the first former player to serve as executive director of the union, and others set up in a meeting room within earshot of a children's choir practicing Christmas carols. A man dressed as Santa Claus waited nearby.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, the last a 7 1/2-month strike in 1994-95 that led to the first cancellation of the World Series in 90 years. The 2002 agreement was reached after players authorized a strike and about 3 1/2 hours before the first game that would have been impacted by a walkout.

The peace in baseball is in contrast to the recent labor histories of other major sports. The NFL had a preseason lockout in 2011, the NBA lost 240 games to a lockout that same year and the NHL lost 510 games to a lockout in 2012-13.