Red Sox take aim at Adrian Gonzalez

BY foxsports • December 16, 2009

The Red Sox are not done yet.

The team, which announced the signings of right-hander John Lackey and center fielder Mike Cameron on Wednesday, is working hard to obtain Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, according to major-league sources.

A deal is not close, and might not happen at all, sources said. Jed Hoyer, the Padres’ new general manager -- and Red Sox’s former assistant GM -- wants a high price for Gonzalez, whose contract is one of the biggest bargains in baseball.

“Jed has been asking for a ton,” one source said.

Gonzalez, 27, is signed for $4.75 million next season with a $5.5 million club option for 2011. He hit 40 home runs last season despite playing his home games at pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

If the Red Sox acquired him, they would shift first baseman Kevin Youkilis to third. In the meantime, they await the completion of their trade of third baseman Mike Lowell to the Rangers.

Gonzalez, in fact, might be the final piece the Red Sox envision as they look to complete their offseason construction, which began with the signing of free-agent shortstop Marco Scutaro to a two-year, $12 million contract.

The addition of Lackey will give the Red Sox the flexibility to trade right-hander Clay Buchholz, who likely would be the centerpiece of any package for Gonzalez. Likewise, the addition of Cameron will give them the flexibility to trade outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

The Padres would be tempted to move Gonzalez if they could get Buchholz and Ellsbury in the same deal, sources say. However, the Red Sox would be very reluctant to include both, according to another source.

A separate person familiar with Boston’s position said the team is becoming comfortable with the idea of trading Buchholz. But the source expressed doubt that the Red Sox would include outfielder Ryan Westmoreland or pitcher Casey Kelly in the deal; at present, the Padres are trying to obtain one of the two high-level prospects.

After investing nearly $100 million combined in the signings of Lackey and Cameron, the Red Sox would surely welcome the opportunity to add a slugger such as Gonzalez at club-friendly salaries.

The acquisition of Gonzalez would enable the Red Sox to pass on free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is seeking a four-year deal for at least $40 million, sources say.

Boston then could turn its attention to signing right-hander Josh Beckett to a long-term extension -- and retain the financial flexibility to pursue other free agents in next year’s deep market.

If the Red Sox fail to acquire either Gonzalez or Beltre, they would be left with a Casey Kotchman/Victor Martinez platoon at first and Youkilis at third.

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