The Red Sox are on the verge of locking up Josh Beckett for four years and $70 million, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman.
The deal would pay out an average of $17.5 million a season to the 29-year-old and would keep the ace in Boston threads through 2014.
The agreement will likely be announced just after the start of the season, Heyman suggests, allowing Boston to avoid affecting its payroll for 2010 as they are just under the luxury tax. Cot's Contracts has the team currently paying out just over $165 million to its players.
The new deal would begin in 2011, and with Beckett's current $12 million salary for 2010, it creates what is in essence a five-year, $82 million deal, eerily similar to newcomer John Lackey's five-year, $82.5 million contract.
It was reported Sunday that the Red Sox would not offer Beckett more than four years, as Beckett has been injury prone in the past. Clearly, that kind of hangup did not affect a deal getting done.
Beckett joined the Red Sox prior to the 2006 season along with Mike Lowell, coming over from the Florida Marlins in exchange for Hanley Ramirez and other minor league prospects. In the four seasons since, he has racked up a 65-34 record, pitching over 200 innings three times. His ERA over that time span is 4.05. He finished second in Cy Young balloting in 2007 behind CC Sabathia after going 20-7 with a 3.27 ERA.
Beckett was key to Boston's 2007 World Series victory, posting a 4-0 record and a sterling 1.20 ERA in the postseason.
Any extension signed prior to the regular season would affect a player's average annual value. The average annual value of Beckett's previous three-year, $30 million pact is $10 million, and as such, he costs that amount toward the payroll. If the extension was signed prior to Opening Day, Beckett's average annual value would rise, sending Boston over the luxury tax threshold.
Beckett will open the 2010 season Sunday, April 4, against the New York Yankees on NESN.