In the wake of a back injury that required Tim Wakefield to have offseason surgery, the pitcher and the Red Sox are close to finalizing a two-year deal that would give Wakefield the chance to become the club’s all-time leader in victories.
According to a baseball source, the Red Sox and Wakefield are discussing the two-year arrangement because the club had some concerns about exercising the regenerating, $4 million option on the player’s contract in the wake of surgery to remove disc fragments from the player’s back. Rather than commit a guaranteed a $4 million to a 43-year-old coming off back surgery, the Red Sox were willing to guarantee Wakefield a lower base salary in each of the next two years with the chance to earn the same dollars if he remains healthy.
This year, Wakefield earned a base salary of $4 million and earned an additional $575,000 in incentives while going 11-5 with a 4.58 ERA. Terms of the new deal were not immediately available, but it is not unreasonable to think that the Sox would just cut Wakefield’s guarantee in half over each of the next two years – to roughly $1 million? – while increasing the value of the incentives.
The new deal would all but ensure that Wakefield will retire after the 2011 campaign, when he is 45.
News of the Wakefield renegotiation comes during a stretch when the Sox have declined the $6 million option on shortstop Alex Gonzalez while picking up the $7.1 million option on catcher Victor Martinez.
No news is available yet on the $5 million option the Sox hold on catcher Jason Varitek. If the Sox decline that option, as expected, Varitek still possesses the option to return at a salary of $3 million.