Red Sox finalize five-year deal with Lackey

BY Ken Rosenthal • December 15, 2009

Free-agent right-hander John Lackey finalized his deal with the Red Sox on Wednesday.

The terms are  five years, $82.5 million, exactly the same as A.J. Burnett got from the New York Yankees. 

The Red Sox generally do not like to award five-year contracts, which is one of the sticking points in their negotiations with free-agent left fielder Jason Bay. Evidently, Boston was willing to make an exception for the top pitcher on this offseason's free-agent market

The signing of Lackey represents the Red Sox's second major move of the offseason; the team earlier signed free-agent shortstop Marco Scutaro to a two-year, $12 million contract. On Wednesday, the Red Sox also finalized their deal with free-agent center fielder Mike Cameron.

The Sox still need to address their corner-infield positions. While it seems unlikely the team will make a move for either Bay or free-agent outfielder Matt Holliday, they could still make a push for Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. In that scenario, they would move first baseman Kevin Youkilis to third.

They also could sign free agent Adrian Beltre to play third if they complete a trade of Mike Lowell to the Rangers, or sign first baseman Nick Johnson.

Bay's agent, Joe Urbon, said Saturday that his client was prepared to "move on" due to a difference of opinion with the Red Sox on what he should be command as a free agent.

The Sox's move on Lackey appears to be an aggressive response to Bay's position -- and their signing of him is a devastating blow to the Angels, who earlier this offseason lost free-agent third baseman Chone Figgins to the Mariners.

The Angels lost out in the race for Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay, but they have an alternative possibility with the Braves dangling right-hander Derek Lowe.

Lackey, 31, was 102-71 with a 3.81 career ERA in eight seasons with the Angels, and 3-4 with a 3.12 ERA in the postseason.

The Red Sox, in addition to Lackey, are trying to sign right-hander Josh Beckett to a contract extension. Beckett, 29, is entering the final year of his contract. His career numbers are slightly better than Lackey's, and he would command at least a comparable deal.

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