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Red Sox close in on Gonzalez

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 4, 2010 08:35 AM

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The Red Sox and Padres have apparently agreed on a trade for Adrian Gonzalez. The All-Star first baseman is either already Boston or on the way according to Nick Cafardo and other reports.

The next step in the process would be for Gonzalez to have a physical and agree on a contract extension.

Neither of those steps are necessarily guaranteed, Gonzalez recently had surgery on his right (non-throwing) shoulder that will reportedly keep him out early in spring training. The Red Sox have to be assured that the injury is not more serious than that. The team also would need Gonzalez signed long term before consummating the deal.

It is unclear who the Red Sox are giving up. The package appears to be built around RHP Casey Kelly and 1B Anthony Rizzo.

UPDATE, 8:59 a.m.: It would seem the plan would be to play Kevin Youkilis at third base with Gonzalez at first base. Whatever interest they had in retaining Adrian Beltre has ended.

It will be interesting to see whether the Sox then go try to sign Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth and put together what would certainly be an imposing lineup. Crawford is the better all-around player and makes sense long-term. But the right-handed hitting Werth would fit in nicely in 2011 and could be signed for fewer years.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 9:07 a.m.: Padres closer Heath Bell is reportedly not involved in the trade and the Red Sox will not be parting with Daniel Bard.

Casey Kelly, by all accounts, is at the center of the deal.

This would be the biggest move of Theo Epstein's tenure, I think, given that Gonzalez is a prime-time position player under 30. The Nomar Garciaparra deal, while significant, did not return a centerpiece player. And dealing Manny Ramirez was a move forced by the circumstances at the time.

Gonzalez is arguably one of the top 10 players in baseball and in his prime.

The closest move in terms of significance might be obtaining Curt Schilling given what transpired.

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