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Sox, Padres talk Gonzalez

Trade would include top prospects, with trade to be worked out

By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / December 4, 2010

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ORLANDO, Fla. — According to a major league source, trade talks between the Red Sox and San Diego Padres with regard to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez have reached the stage where medical clearance and a contract extension may be the only things standing in the way of a deal that would bring the lefthanded-hitting slugger to Boston.

The 28-year-old Gonzalez is expected in Boston today for a physical.

Talks have centered around some of Boston’s top prospects, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo and righthanded pitcher Casey Kelly. The deal would likely involve three or four players from the Sox, including one who is major league-ready. The Sox likely would have to be assured that Gonzalez’s right shoulder, for which he underwent surgery last month, is healing properly, and would allow him to start the season.

While talks have heated up recently, Sox general manager Theo Epstein and Padres counterpart Jed Hoyer have discussed a possible deal for some time, dating to last year’s winter meetings. Both Hoyer and San Diego’s new senior vice president of baseball operations, Josh Byrnes, were former assistants under Epstein in Boston.

Whether the Red Sox would need a contract extension in place to complete the deal is unknown, but they would likely have to know that an extension is plausible. Calls to Gonzalez’s agent, John Boggs, went unreturned.

Gonzalez, who was raised in the San Diego area, has an inside-out swing that is perfectly suited for Fenway Park’s left-field wall. He has hit at least 30 home runs in each of the last four seasons, playing half of his games in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. He also has won two Gold Gloves at first base.

The feeling was that the Sox planned to take a run at Gonzalez after this season when he becomes a free agent, but the Padres are said to be ready to deal now rather than wait until the trading deadline.

By then, the Padres could be in contention, and it would be more difficult to trade their top star.

The Red Sox have been courting free agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth in recent days, but it appears they would shy away from giving an eight-year deal to Crawford, and could add Werth, in addition to Gonzalez, if agent Scott Boras’s asking price isn’t too high.

The addition of Gonzalez would shift Kevin Youkilis to third base, and the Sox would likely drop out of the Adrian Beltre talks. Boras and the Red Sox spoke yesterday, presumably about Beltre and Werth.

Gonzalez is under contract this season for $6.2 million. An extension would likely be for six years at an average of $20 million per season.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.

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