FORT MYERS, Fla. - Talks between the Red Sox and Josh Beckett's agents have been civil and continue to evolve. While there's optimism a deal can get done, there's still negotiating and compromise that needs to occur before an agreement is reached according to a source with knowledge of the talks.
Since we first reported two weeks ago that initial talks between the sides were positive and there was optimism a deal could get done, talks have continued in a positive nature, but remain in neutral.
Will that gridlock be broken soon?
ESPN.com reported that the team has offered Beckett a four-year deal, which is in line with the feelings of Sox management since the talks started in February. The Red Sox have never wanted to commit to six years which means they would likely not give Beckett a 5-year extension beyond this season.
Nobody in a position of authority with the Red Sox would confirm or deny the report of a 4-year offer, but major league sources indicate Beckett's side is looking for five years and a higher average annual value on the contract than the team is currently comfortable with.
They are looking for more than John Lackey's five-year, $82.5 million deal that also includes major medical language in which the Red Sox can pick up a sixth-year option at the minimum salary if Lackey has to have Tommy John surgery at any point during the contract.
There are also medical language issues that need to be resolved which would vary based on the level of Boston's commitment.
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most likely, it appears the Red Sox and Beckett are at about 7-8 right now. But even if a deal can't be struck within the next week or two, because there's been such a civility between the two sides, there's reason to believe something could get done before the All-Star break at the latest.
There appears to be more room for compromise in these negotiations than the Red Sox-Jason Bay talks which ended with the New York Mets landing Bay, when Bay refused to go along with a medical provision which protected the team in case he had knee and shoulder woes.
Suffice to say, the Red Sox want a shorter commitment and Beckett wants a longer commitment at more money.