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Sox deal remains Beltre’s preference

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / December 3, 2010

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Adrian Beltre is ready to make a deal. He hopes something can still get done with the Red Sox.

The All-Star third baseman flew from Los Angeles to the Dominican Republic yesterday to lend his support to a charity event hosted by David Ortiz. Though a free agent, Beltre still feels like part of the Red Sox.

“These guys are my friends and they made me feel part of the team,’’ he said. “There’s a lot going on right now, but I do hope I stay with the Red Sox.’’

Several teams, particularly Oakland, have targeted Beltre after a season in which he hit .321 with 49 doubles, 28 home runs, and 102 RBIs.

“I could make a deal right now if I wanted to,’’ he said. “But I want to wait and make sure I make the right decision.’’

Beltre would not go into specifics about his choices beyond saying that his preference would be Boston.

“I got used to seeing that park full in the first inning and still full in the ninth inning. I liked that atmosphere,’’ he said. “If everything was close to the same, I would go back to Boston. But we have to see. The number of years is what is important to me.’’

Beltre said he was prepared to relocate his family to the East Coast if the Red Sox were willing to meet his demands.

Beltre arrived with Hall of Famer Jim Rice and immediately fell into a conversation with Ortiz, Daniel Bard, and Darnell McDonald.

“I would love to play with these guys again,’’ Beltre said.

Beltre said he was disappointed Victor Martinez left the Red Sox because the two had become good friends. But he wasn’t surprised.

“I had a feeling that would happen because he wasn’t happy with how [the Red Sox] approached it with him. But I would still come back. I liked playing there and I want to be with a contender,’’ he said.

As Beltre considers his options, general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona have been on the move, meeting with free agent outfielders Carl Crawford in Houston and Jayson Werth in Chicago this week.

“I trust those guys to make sure we have a good team,’’ Ortiz said. “I hope Adrian stays, but even if he doesn’t, we’ll be OK.’’

Sox pass on Okajima The Red Sox did not tender a contract offer to lefthanded reliever Hideki Okajima, making him a free agent. The same was true of relievers Taylor Buchholz and Andrew Miller.

Okajima, who turns 35 this month, was an All-Star in 2007. But his unorthodox delivery, which once baffled lefthanded hitters, became less effective.

Okajima had a 4.50 earned run average last season, allowing 59 hits and 20 walks over 46 innings. Lefthanders hit .284 against Okajima with a .732 OPS.

Buchholz was claimed off waivers from Toronto on Nov. 15. Miller was acquired from the Marlins on Nov. 12.

The team offered contracts to Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon. They are now considered signed players with contracts to be determined by binding arbitration, if necessary.

Rivera reportedly re-signs Mariano Rivera has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal with the Yankees. SportsIllustrated.com reported the Red Sox and Angels made unsuccessful three-year offers . . . According to Baseball America, the Red Sox signed veteran righthander Brandon Duckworth to a minor league contract. He is 23-34 with a 5.28 ERA over parts of eight seasons and last appeared in the majors in 2008 . . . The Giants spoke to the Red Sox regarding shortstop Marco Scutaro but decided to sign Miguel Tejada . . . McDonald, who had surgery on his right thumb in October, said he is close to 100 percent.

Yankees sweeten Jeter offer Talks between the Yankees and Derek Jeter appear to be slowly moving forward, but the team now appears willing to offer its captain and shortstop a contract of three or four years at $16 million to $18 million a year, two people briefed on the status of the negotiations told the New York Times.

The Yankees’ offer to Jeter had stood at three years for $45 million. They have improved those terms, but the people who disclosed them said there was still substantial ground to be bridged with Jeter and his agent before an agreement was reached and that a deal was not close.

“The ball’s in Derek’s court now, and his agent,’’ Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said in an interview with the Associated Press. “It’s up to them.’’

Jeter’s agent, Casey Close, declined comment.

The Yankees are anticipating talks will intensify at next week’s winter meetings with Cliff Lee. Among other free agents, the 32-year-old lefthander is New York’s No. 1 priority. Lee got another visit this week from the Rangers, who are hoping he’ll return after helping them get to their first World Series.

Dunn joins White Sox Adam Dunn agreed to a four-year, $56 million contract with the White Sox, a source said. The 31-year-old has a career batting average of .250, with 354 homers and 880 RBIs in 10 major league seasons with the Reds, Diamondbacks, and Nationals . . . Righthander Javier Vazquez said he turned down multiyear offers to sign a one-year, $7 million deal with the Marlins . . . Pat Burrell decided to stay with the Giants . . . The Rockies acquired infielder Jose Lopez from the Mariners for righthander Chaz Roe . . . Oft-injured lefthander Erik Bedard agreed to a one-year contract with the Mariners . . . The Angels signed reliever Hisanori Takahashi to a two-year deal . . . Eric Hinske is staying with the Braves, agreeing to a one-year deal. Atlanta also decided not to offer a contract to outfielder Matt Diaz.

Material from wire services was used in this report

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