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Cliff Lee’s agent says regarding the Red Sox’ interest, ‘We’ve talked’

12.06.10 at 2:10 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Darek Braunecker, the agent for free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, said he has discussed his client with the Red Sox, although he wouldn’t offer any sort of timetable as to when the two sides had communicated. “We’ve talked, that’s all I can say,” Braunecker told WEEI.com.

Braunecker also told a group of reporters that he is in the process of setting up meetings with respective clubs. It is believed the Rangers and Yankees remain the front-runners for the services of the lefty ace. “It’s good to be Cliff Lee,” he said.

Also in the lobby was former Red Sox reliever Joe Nelson, who said he is done pitching but was looking forward to meeting with teams regarding possible future front office employment.

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Terry Francona on D&H: Adrian Gonzalez ‘one of the best hitters in baseball’

12.06.10 at 1:52 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday afternoon from the winter meetings in Orlando and gushed about the team’s new acquisition, Adrian Gonzalez. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“This is one of the best hitters in baseball,” Francona said. “This is a big move for us. We’re getting a middle-of-the-order bat, a guy that’s won a couple of Gold Gloves. His age is still young. This is exciting. And again, we gave up some good players to get him, but that’s the only way you can get a guy of this caliber.”

Added Francona: “It’s amazing when you get a hitter of his caliber how it affects the lineup. Everybody gets better. All of a sudden, [Kevin] Youkilis, [David] Ortiz, [Dustin] Pedroia ‘€” it’s the same way when we got Victor [Martinez], that’s how we felt. This guy is a genuine run-producer, and I think playing in Fenway is just going to enhance that. So, this is obviously very exciting.”

Francona said he was not privy to all the inside maneuverings that got the deal done, but he was aware when the Sox were close, as general manager Theo Epstein filled him in. Said Francona: “I knew how much [Epstein] thought of Adrian Gonzalez as a player. We were talking about it the other night, and I just encouraged him to keep after it. Because I know when he feels that strongly, he’s going to be right. … I could tell that Theo was really digging his heels in on this one, and I’m glad he did. Because when he feels that strongly, it’s got a chance to really be good for us.”

Gonzalez has been winning over people in Boston with his personality, and Francona is one of those who has been impressed. “I was doing everything in my power to get a hold of him, and he called me,” Francona said. “So, that was really pretty neat. He’s a very polite kid. ‘€¦ He seems like a genuine kid that really wants to win. And he’s got a beautiful swing that will look even prettier in Fenway.”

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Theo Epstein on dealings with Jed Hoyer: Knowledge of the farm was key

12.06.10 at 1:47 pm ET
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The Red Sox had long been enamored with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. A former top overall pick of the Marlins, the Sox had an eye on the slugger from his days as a Ranger to his five years with the Padres. In fact, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said Monday that the team came close to acquiring Gonzalez at the 2009 trade deadline.

To finally get Gonzalez, Epstein had to go through an old friend in Padres GM Jed Hoyer, who had formerly served the Red Sox as assistant general manager prior to taking the San Diego job.

“Negotiating with Jed was great. I trust him because I know him, and he’s a very honest guy. He has knowledge of our farm system, so it wasn’t a situation where either side was looking to pull a fast one on the other,” Epstein said. “This was a case of a trade with all known commodities. We know Adrian really well. We know what he’s capable of as one of the best players in the game.”

The Sox saw an opportunity to get the coveted power-hitting Gold-Glover this offseason when Hoyer made public comments that Gonzalez’ long-term status with the team could be in question. It seemed Gonzalez would likely command more than San Diego could afford, and the Red Sox swooped in. The two sides spent a couple of weeks negotiating a package that could get the deal done, and it soon became a reality as the Sox agreed to send highly touted prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes to San Diego.

“Last weekend, things started to heat up,” Epstein said. “We made some strong proposals, and I had a good feeling that by the middle of the week, we’d get something done. Early afternoon Thursday we were able to get it done.”

In acquiring Gonzalez, of course, the Sox had to pay a steep price. Kelly and Fuentes were both first-round picks and Rizzo was the organization’s top power-hitting prospect, having belted 20 homers last season at Double-A Portland.

Rizzo is also a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in May of 2008. He underwent chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free in November of that year.

“[Rizzo] made the organization really proud through the whole process,” Epstein said.

With Rizzo, Kelly and Fuentes now property of the Padres, the Sox’ farm has taken a sizable hit, something Epstein understands. With one of the best players in the game coming to Boston, though, it’s simply the going rate.

“He got three great prospects,” Epstein said of Hoyer. “This is a win-win-win situation. For me, the only part of the deal that I have any regrets about whatsoever is losing those prospects, because they’re great kids. We had personal connections with all three of them.”

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Adrian Gonzalez: Don’t worry about my shoulder ‘I’ll be ready for Opening Day’

12.06.10 at 1:35 pm ET
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Safe to say, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein believes the medical reports and the word of Adrian Gonzalez that his surgically-repaired right shoulder won’t keep him from being an offensive force in the Red Sox batting order.

While WEEI.com’s Alex Speier confirmed Ken Rosenthal’s report of a 7-year, $154 million extension in place for the 28-year-old slugger, Gonzalez was assuring everyone at his news conference at Fenway that shoulder surgery in October won’t affect his 2011 season – his first in Boston.

“I really good,” Gonzalez said. “My shoulder is ahead of schedule. I’ll be ready for Opening Day, no doubt in my mind. I know my body and feel that it feels great. We went through a lot of physicals and they look at every aspect of my shoulder and the rest of my body and they know I’m healthy.”

Gonzalez injured his right shoulder in May and had surgery on Oct. 20. For the last five seasons, he’s played in at least 156 games, and no fewer than 160 in each of his last four years.

What’s so impressive about his numbers (.298, 31 HR, 101 RBI) this past season is that he not only put them up playing at Petco Park in San Diego but he played most of the season in pain. So much so, that his manager, Bud Black, had to force him to take days off to rest it.

“As far as playing through it, it was definitely an adjustment,” Gonzalez said. “There were a lot of times when I played through a lot of pain but the main thing is to be on the field. The main thing for me is I want to play 162 games a year, plus the playoffs. My goal is to be on the field every day regardless of anything else going on. If I can get on the field, I’m going to be on the field. That’s one of the things where Bud Black almost had to talk me into not being on the field sometimes so I would rest the shoulder, neck and all the things that were going on in that area.

“Ive been through that and I know it’s not fun. That’s the reason I had that surgery so I’m now looking forward to playing healthy.”

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Red Sox, Padres discussed including Jacoby Ellsbury in the deal

12.06.10 at 1:30 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, the Red Sox and Padres discussed several permutations for the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Different major league-ready players were discussed in the deal, including outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, left-hander Felix Doubront and infielder Jed Lowrie.

But the Padres opted to go for three solid prospects (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes), each of whom they believe could develop into big league regulars, and perhaps above-average to well above-average ones. (The Padres simply would not have done a deal without pitcher Casey Kelly.)

The team was especially intrigued by the idea of adding Ellsbury to the deal, but he already has three years of service time behind him, and is now a first-time arbitration eligible player. So, if Ellsbury performed at a high level with the Padres, San Diego felt that it would have been in the exact same position with Ellsbury in two years as it was today with Gonzalez: In a position where they would have to once again trade Ellsbury (a Scott Boras client who is considered unlikely to sign a long-term deal before reaching fre agency) before his final controllable year. Meanwhile, the Sox continue to value Ellsbury as a potentially important part of the club for 2011.

As for the package that the Padres did get, they considered it the package that had the most high-ceiling players. Other proposals that they received might have featured current big leaguers, but San Diego did not feel that it was being offered projected stars, and the idea of short-term gain at the expense of a meaningful long-term infusion of talent in the Sox deal did not make sense for a team whose success will be dictated by its young, controllable players.

It is worth noting that when the Sox and Padres discussed potential deals for Gonzalez in the past, San Diego had been able to target even more substantial returns. In the middle of the 2009 season, for instance, the teams discussed having Clay Buchholz as the centerpiece of a deal that would have included more than three prospects. After the 2009 season, San Diego felt that a fair asking price for Gonzalez started with both Buchholz and Kelly (a proposal that the Sox viewed as too costly). The longer that the Padres waited to deal Gonzalez, San Diego feared, the more his trade value would diminish.

In that sense, Mark Teixeira offered an interesting case study. When traded from the Rangers to the Braves in the middle of 2007 with a year and a half left on his deal, he netted a huge prospect package that included Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus. One year later, when the Braves dealt Teixeira in July — two months before his free agency — Atlanta got a package from the Angels that was featured the highly underwhelming package of first baseman Casey Kotchman and reliever Stephen Marek. The Padres did not want to face such diminishing returns by waiting too long to deal Gonzalez, a fact that helped motivate the deal with the Red Sox.

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Source: Gonzalez, Red Sox have framework for seven-year deal

12.06.10 at 1:14 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A baseball source confirmed that the Red Sox and newly acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez have agreed to the framework of an extension that will pay the slugger roughly $22 million a year for seven years. The extension, which will likely wait be announced after the start of the season both so the Sox can ensure that Gonzalez’ right shoulder is healthy and so that they can diminish their luxury tax hit, would run from 2012-2018. Gonzalez will play this season for $6.2 million, the option year on a four-year contract he signed with the Padres for the 2007-10 seasons.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was the first to report the seven-year, $154 million framework, which would ultimately result in Gonzalez being paid just over $160 million over eight years in Boston.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, extension, Hot Stove,

Adrian Gonzalez on D&H: ‘I need to hit the ball in the air’

12.06.10 at 1:05 pm ET
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New Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez checked in with the Dale & Holley show Monday, shortly after his introductory press conference at Fenway Park. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Gonzalez reiterated that his hometown Padres and the Red Sox have always been his two favorite teams. “If you are going to get traded and if you are going to go somewhere else, my choice was always Boston,” he said. “So, very exciting day today that I’m able to go the place where I want to be if I’m not in San Diego.”

Gonzalez talked about playing in cavernous Petco Park and how he expects a boost switching to the more comfortable Fenway Park. Said Gonzalez: “I know that most of my outs in the air are to left field, so that’s something to look forward to. ‘€¦ I let the ball get deep, I hit the ball in the air to left field. My No. 1 goal at the plate is to get the ball in the air. I don’t want to hit it on the ground. You’ll find out, I’m very slow. Speed is not part of my game. So, for me to have success, I need to hit the ball in the air. When you put the short fence here, with the Green Monster, I’m excited about the possibility of a lot of those outs turning into hits.”

Despite the Red Sox moving in the right field fence nine feet, Gonzalez said he won’t change his approach at the plate and attempt to pull the ball. “It’s one of those things where the only time I’ll ever look to go to right field is when the pitcher forces me, because they’re able to control the inside part of the plate and get to two strikes in doing so,” he said. “You’ll notice that I’ll give every pitcher the inside part of the plate until they prove that they’re going to force me to swing at it. Most pitchers can go in there once and won’t go in there for a strike a second time. So, you just wait for them to go to the other side of the plate.”

Despite battling some injuries ‘€” incuding a shoulder issue that required offseason surgery ‘€” Gonzalez managed to play in 160 games last season. He indicated that approach will not change. “I want to be on the field,” he said. “I’m a player that doesn’t rely on speed, and I’m a first baseman. At times you go through a whole game and there’s very little movement. So, you can play hurt at that position. I want to play. I want to be on the field. And I’m going to do everything possible every single day to be on that field. My goal is to play 162 games and play every playoff game every year.”

Gonzalez explained that his father and his two brothers were talented baseball players (one brother, Edgar was a Padres teammate for two seasons), and his family’s influence was a key to his success. This included family sessions learning about standout players of years past, such as San Diego native Ted Williams. “Baseball’s been in my family since I was born,” he said. “We breathe baseball, we live baseball. Instead of watching a movie at home, we were watching games from the past. You just learn so much from those experiences, from watching my brothers, from watching everybody.”

The topic of contract negotiations was brought up, and Gonzalez said there simply wasn’t time to finalize an extension before finishing the trade. “I think the biggest problem is the fact that it was a very short window,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that go into a contract negotiation other than just numbers. When it came down to having numbers be thrown back and forth, it was just too short a window. There wasn’t very much things done in that regard. It was one of those things where the relationship, the way we were able to get to know one another on both ends, we felt very confident, given that we’re going to have a full year to get things done, we’re going to be able to get something done. ‘€¦ We felt very confident about giving each other our word that we’re going to talk during the season and we’re going to get something done.”

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