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No deal for Youkilis

Posted by Adam Kilgore, Globe Staff  December 24, 2008 11:22 AM

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Kevin Youkilis and the Red Sox will not reach a long-term contract agreement this offseason, said Joe Bick, Youkilis's agent. Youkilis and the team have discussed a possible long-term contract this winter, but the sides currently stand too far apart for a deal to be finished before the 2009 season.

“We’ve had some initial conversations” toward a long-term contract, Bick said. “It doesn’t look promising.”

Youkilis will now decide between arbitration and signing a one-year contract. Youkilis has slightly more than four years of major league service, meaning he will be under the Red Sox control and not eligible for free agency until after the 2010 season. He is eligible for arbitration until then. Last offseason, Youkilis avoided arbitration by signing a one-year, $3 million contract.

“We’re going to concentrate our efforts from this point forward on getting a one-year deal done, whether it’s negotiated or otherwise,” Bick said. “That’s where we stand going forward.”

In brighter Youkilis news, he has accepted an offer to play for the United States in the World Baseball Classic. Last Thursday, during a visit to children at The Guidance Center, Inc. at Lesley University in Cambridge, Youkilis expressed his desire to play in the event.

“For me, it’d be cool to represent my country,” Youkilis said. “If they ask me, yeah. Yeah, definitely. I’ll play. Cool experience. I’ve done a lot of great things, and that could be an added thing to put on the plate.”

Back to Youkilis’s contract status: It seems somewhat surprising, given the lengths the Sox went to in the pursuit of Mark Teixeira, that they can’t come to an agreement with their own first baseman who finished third in the Most Valuable Player vote this season. MVP Dustin Pedroia, who has two fewer years of service than Youkilis, signed a six-year, $40.5 million contract earlier this winter.

The Red Sox were willing to pay $170 million over eight years to land Teixeira. It’s safe to assume Youkilis would have been much, much less expensive. Youkilis is one year older than Teixeira. Both players are capable of winning a Gold Glove at first base; Youkilis plays third base, too. Their stats show that Teixeira is more productive, but not by a vast margin:

2008

Player AB AVG OBPSLG HR RBI R 2B OPS+
Youkilis 538 .312 .390 .569 29 115 91 43 143
Teixeira 574 .308 .410 .552 33 121 102 41 151

CAREER PER 162 GAMES

PlayerAB AVG OBPSLG HR RBI R 2B OPS+
Youkilis 563 .289 .385 .472 19 92 95 40 119
Teixeira 612 .290 .378 .541 36 121 101 40 143

It should be noted that Youkilis has played under one-year contracts for his entire career with Boston, and he has the kind of personality that allows him to thrive while proving his value season-by-season. It should also be noted that the Red Sox have highly rated first base prospect Lars Anderson waiting in the minors, making matters at that position less urgent.

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