To hear Josh Beckett tell it, the decision to sign a four-year, $68 million contract extension with the Red Sox came down to one simple fact:
He’s happy where he is, so why change?
“This is a very special place,” said Beckett this afternoon during a 3 p.m. press conference at Fenway during the deal, which will take him through the 2014 season, was announced. “Anyone who has had a chance to play here knows that. And anyone who hasn’t had a chance to play here probably know that through other people that have.
“This organization does everything it can to make our jobs as easy as possible.The people I’ve talked to, there aren’t a whole lot of other organizations out there that do that. Work in between starts, roundtable things, I could go on here, but they make for a very ideal situation for a baseball player. It’s really a good place to play.”
Beckett gets a $5 million signing bonus and yearly salaries of $15.75 million. The deal was agreed to a few days ago but by waiting until after Opening Day, the Sox will not be taxed by MLB on the signing bonus.
Beckett, who turns 30 on May 15, said his decision to pass up a chance at free agency — and perhaps a more lucrative contract — to remain with the Red Sox is a matter of priorities.
“A lot of people look at what you lose, or what you lost,” Beckett said. “I looked at what I gained here. I gained four years more of stability, knowing that I’m going to be in an organization that’s going to put a competitive team out there every year.”
The deal averages out to $17 million a year, better than the $16.5 million new teammate John Lackey will average over course of his five-year contract. That distinction was important for Beckett and agent Mike Moye.
Beckett also has limited no-trade protection until be becomes a 10/5 player. There is no medical language in the contract, but it can be insured.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said he reached out to Beckett about his contract the day the club signed Lackey in mid-December.
“I kind of anticipated that there might be some speculation signing John that we weren’t going to sign Josh during his impending free agency, so I just wanted to talk to him and let him know that it didn’t change our feelings about him at all,” Epstein said.
“So, we talked a little bit over the winter, Michael Moye, Josh’s agent, and myself, and we established some parameters, we knew we’d pick it up in spring training, and we wanted to get it done before Opening Day. We developed a lot of momentum throughout spring training, and it became clear we had some loose ends to tie up and we didn’t want the distraction for Josh heading in to his Opening Day start, so we decided, ‘Hey, let’s extend a little beyond Opening Day if we have to.’ . . . It’s pretty easy when you have a strong desire to retain a player and the player has a strong desire to settle in the city. Those things tend to get done.”