By Sean McAdam
BOSTON -- What had been rumored for months was made official Friday -- the Red Sox and Adrian Gonzalez have agreed to a seven-year, 154 million contract extension.
The team held a 3 p.m. news conference to announce the signing.
Gonzalez, obtained from the San Diego Padres last December in exchange for four players, will sign the richest deal in total dollars ever given by Boston's current ownership. Manny Ramirez, who once landed an eight-year, 160 million deal with the Red Sox, was signed by the club's previous owners.
The contract is the second megadeal for the Red Sox in the last five months. At the winter meetings last December, a week after trading for Gonzalez, the Sox signed free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a seven-year, 142 million deal.
Earlier this week, the club also announced an four-year extension -- with two option years -- for pitcher Clay Buchholz, worth 30 million.
In the days following last December's trade, the Red Sox and agent John Boggs worked toward finalizing an extension for Gonzalez, who was under contract for one more season (2011) at a salary of 6.5 million.
When the trade was agreed upon, the sides were given a 48-hour window by Major League Baseball to come to terms on a new contract. That deadline passed, and the assumption was the deal would be scuttled. But they agreed to continue talks in the spring, and the Red Sox went ahead with the trade.
Boggs visited Fort Myers in late March to resume talks. The remaining issues, including finalizing contract language and some performance bonuses, were completed this week, sources said.
While he was in Fort Myers, Boggs said he would be surprised if a deal didn't get done sometime during the first month of the season.
The deal includes a signing bonus.
For the Red Sox, there was incentive to delay the signing until after the start of the season. By doing so, they can use Gonzalez's 6.5 million salary toward the luxury tax computation for this year. Had the extension been agreed upon before Opening Day, the average annual value of the entite deal -- about 20 million for 2011 -- would have applied.
The delay also bought some time for the Red Sox to evaluate the condition of Gonzalez's right shoulder, which was surgically repaired last October, about six weeks before the trade took place.
Gonzalez, who will turn 29 next month, reported to spring training on time, but didn't appear in a Grapefruit League game until March 12. The Sox then had the better part of a month to determine that Gonzalez was fully healthy and not limited by his shoulder.
The first baseman has started all 11 games thus far this season and is hitting .268 with a home run and seven RBI.
The average annual value of the extension, 22 million, is the eighth-highest for active players in the game. The 154 million, meanwhile, is the ninth-biggest contract in the history of the game.
Gonzalez had been a target of the Red Sox for some time, especially after the team failed in its pursuit of free agent Mark Teixeira after the 2008 season. The Padres, knowing they couldn't afford to sign Gonzalez to an extension and were likely to lose him to free agency when his current contract expired, began shopping him in earnest last winter.
San Diego GM Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod, eminently familiar with the Red Sox farm system from their time working under Theo Epstein, quickly zeroed in on Casey Kelly and first baseman Anthony Rizzo as the centerpieces to the deal.