Pedro Martinez told close friends he was "very happy" after meeting at the airport in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, yesterday morning with Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry and CEO Larry Lucchino, and publicly, at least, the Sox brass pronounced a similar measure of satisfaction with their exchange with the free agent righthander.
Meanwhile, Sox general manager Theo Epstein last night took a step toward filling the void left by the departure of Scott Williamson by coming to terms with former Arizona Diamondbacks closer Matt Mantei on a guaranteed, one-year, $750,000 deal that could be worth $2.5 million if Mantei satisfies health and performance clauses. Mantei, 31, who has had major elbow and shoulder surgeries and has been on the disabled list all but one year since 1995, began last season as the Diamondbacks' closer, lost his job, then underwent shoulder surgery in June and missed the rest of the season.
Martinez's teammate, David Ortiz, who later saw Henry and Lucchino at ceremonies marking the first anniversary of the team's academy for Dominican players, dismissed the possibility that Martinez would choose to sign with the New York Mets, the team that has most ardently wooed Martinez to this stage, offering him a guaranteed three-year deal for $38 million million, with a vesting option for a fourth year, making the total package worth $50 million.
"He ain't going to no Mets," Ortiz said of Martinez, who after meeting with Henry and Lucchino in a tented area at the airport was scheduled to fly to Florida for his sister's wedding. Martinez's agent, Fernando Cuza, also attended the meeting, and last night did not return messages. But one industry source with direct knowledge of Martinez's talks with teams said last night, "The Mets have more interest in Pedro than Pedro has in the Mets."
Did the Sox sweeten their offer to Martinez yesterday? The owners would not say, and another industry source maintained that nothing had changed. The Sox have offered Martinez a two-year deal for $25.5 million, with a vesting option for a third year that pushes the deal to $37.5 million.
"We had a very positive meeting," said Lucchino. "We brought the World Series trophy and Pedro shared it with some members of his family. We also gave him some World Series photos as a gift to him.
"We met for 45 minutes to an hour. We don't want to get into the specifics. We need to confer with Theo."
Martinez, who had an entourage of about 20 family members, posed with the trophy with relatives. Then the meeting began, with just four chairs, for the owners, Martinez, and Cuza.
"Pedro dubbed it his outdoor office," said Lucchino.
Martinez told them friends in the Dominican Republic have encouraged him to stay with the Red Sox.
"We have every hope we will be able to find common ground and Pedro will remain in a Boston uniform for the rest of his career, hopefully," Henry said.
The Sox also have interest in lefthander David Wells and Devil Rays shortstop Julio Lugo, though both, one industry source maintained, are just names on long lists of prospective pitchers and shortstops.
Mantei, who was paid $7 million by the Diamondbacks last season and openly talked of retirement during the season, flew into Boston with his agent, Bob Garber, on Tuesday, was given the green light by the medical staff, and after meeting with Epstein and manager Terry Francona, who flew up to see him, elected to sign with the Sox.
Garber said Mantei will be ready for the start of spring training. "The surgery he had last summer did not involve a ligament or tendon," Garber said. "They just shaved his clavicle. Matt is in the best health he's been in years."
It will be worth around an additional $1 million to Mantei if he is able to remain on the active roster next season. There are additional performance bonuses, Garber said.
Mantei, who pitched the last six seasons in Arizona and was teammates with Sox relievers Byung Hyun Kim and Mike Myers, was the team's all-time saves leader with 74. In 281 major league games, all in relief, he has limited opponents to a .210 batting average, including a .193 mark by lefthanders and a .223 mark by righthanders, and has 374 strikeouts in 296 1/3 innings, an average of 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
Mantei is 13-18 with 93 saves and a 3.86 ERA in all or part of nine major league seasons with Florida (1995-96, 1998-99) and Arizona.
Gordon Edes reported from Boston, Stan Grossfeld from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.