Josh Beckett is entering a contract year with the Red Sox, and according to ESPN.com, the team will not match John Lackey?s five-year, $82.5 million contract in negotiations with its ace.
The Red Sox and Beckett's representatives have had ongoing discussions about a contract extension during spring training, but the Red Sox will not go beyond four years in a deal with their Opening Day starter, ESPN.com reports, citing a source.
The contract negotiations have not become public, but baseball insiders have speculated that Beckett is seeking a deal at or above the average annual value of Lackey's contract. Only six pitchers will make more money than Lackey this season, including the Yankees' CC Sabathia and Phillies' Roy Halladay.
The Red Sox may have concerns regarding Beckett's long-term health. The right-hander has pitched more than 200 innings only three times in his nine-year major league career, and had some shoulder issues when he was in the minors with the Marlins.
A two-time All-Star, Beckett has gone 65-34 with a 4.05 ERA in four seasons with the Red Sox. He is finishing a three-year, $30 million extension he signed during the 2006 season.