One of the best young pitchers in the National League appears to be on his way to Boston.
Major league baseball sources told The Boston Globe that pending physicals, the Red Sox have agreed to a trade that would bring 25-year-old Marlins pitcher Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston for prospects Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and a minor league pitcher (to be named later).
The Fort Worth Star Telegram is also reporting that, according to a major league source, “the Marlins, who are once again believed to be engaging in an austerity drive to significantly lower payroll, decided to accept the Red Sox offer.” The Rangers had been pursuing Beckett as well, but acknowledged they were out of the running.
Unidentified sources outside the Red Sox told ESPN’s Peter Gammons that the deal is contingent on the finalization of paperwork and all players passing physicals. According to Gammons, an announcement isn’t expected for another day or two, which opens up the possibility it could still fall apart.
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reported that, according to an unidentified baseball official with knowledge of the discussions, the Red Sox agreed to take on all of the $18 million owed to Lowell over the next two seasons.
According to ESPN.com, the Marlins had originally wanted lefthanded pitcher Jon Lester in the deal, but Boston hesitated. Instead, the Red Sox reportedly agreed to add a second minor leaguer if Florida accepted Sanchez instead.
Gammons added that the player to be named later will be a Red Sox minor leaguer who is not currently on the 40-man roster. Righthander Jesus Delgado could be the other player the Marlins receive, according to Gammons and The Associated Press.
Gammons also reported that “the Red Sox have no comment,” and indicated that Red Sox front office employees Jed Hoyer and Craig Shipley were instrumental in getting the deal done.
The righthanded Beckett was 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 29 starts for the Marlins in 2005, a season in which he suffered problems with his shoulder and recurring blisters on his right middle finger. He is eligible for arbitration and is expected to make between $4 million and $5 million in 2006.
Lowell hit a paltry .236 with just eight homers last season. He did, however, win a Gold Glove at third base.
Considered by some to be the top prospect in the Red Sox organization, shortstop Hanley Ramirez hit .271 with six homers, 52 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases in 122 games for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs last season. Sanchez was 3-5 with a 3.45 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings for the Sea Dogs. He started the season in Single-A Wilmington, where he went 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 78 2/3 innings.