SARASOTA - An amicable start to contract talks between the Red Sox and Josh Beckett has created optimism that the two sides might be able to reach an agreement before Beckett reaches free-agency.
"Hopeful," said a source familiar with the talks, who confirmed early talks had been productive.
The Red Sox signed John Lackey to a five-year, $82 million deal in the offseason which included an unsuual provision where Lackey would have to pitch a sixth year at the major league minimum salary if at anytime during the contract he underwent Tommy John surgery. The Sox have shoulder protection on J.D. Drew but weren't able to secure a medical provision on Jason Bay's deal.
Beckett would likely have to go along with medical language on his right shoulder. Is he willing to do it? That is the question. He has developed a close relationship with Lackey who DID go along with the language which may lead to Beckett doing the same. Beckett likes the atmosphere the Sox created and a Beckett-Lackey-Lester threesome has a Maddux-Glavine-Smoltz feel to it.
Still, way too early to project this happening quite yet. But early talks have not left either side feeling it can't be done.