Gonzalez, Red Sox complete seven-year deal
Worth $154 million, extension is ninth-largest pact in MLB history
BOSTON -- Four months ago, the Red Sox and Adrian Gonzalez spent a weekend together laying the groundwork for a contract that was formally announced at Fenway Park on Friday.
Gonzalez, who would have been eligible for free agency at the end of the 2011 season, agreed to terms with Boston on a deal that will pay him $154 million over seven years, from 2012-18.
The signing ended months of speculation that a deal would be completed during the early portion of the season.
"I'm a person that for the most part, I want to be in a place where I'm comfortable, where I want to be," Gonzalez said during a news conference at Fenway Park. "This was a place that was a perfect fit for me as well. ... It's a place where I'm going to have a lot of fun. I'm going to really enjoy playing here."
The contract is the ninth-most lucrative in Major League history, the second-largest in Red Sox history and the largest agreed upon by the current ownership group. Manny Ramirez signed an eight-year, $160 million deal in December 2000.
"We're very pleased to have it done," general manager Theo Epstein said. "We hope and we believe this will go down as a great day for the organization.
|Here are the 27 contracts of more than $100 million that have been signed since Kevin Brown's deal first broke the barrier in 1999 (asterisks identify contract extensions).|
|Ken Griffey Jr.||CIN||$116.5M||2000-08*|
|Sources: Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Associated Press and MLB.com archives|
"We're thrilled to have him here and know he'll be a core member of the organization for a long time. We couldn't ask for more from him as a player and as a person. ... I couldn't be happier about it."
It was the second major free-agent contract signed by the Sox in the last few months. In December, Carl Crawford signed a seven-year, $142 million deal to come to Boston.
"The reason you develop young players who are on affordable deals or are on team-friendly long term deals, the reason why you do all those things is so when the right player comes along at the right time, you can make a commitment," Epstein said. "Adrian, in our minds, is certainly the right player at the right time. We moved aggressively to trade for him and to sign him. The primary reason we have the ability to do that is because of the commitment that ownership has shown and the financial resources that they've given us, which is also a reflection of the dedication of our fanbase.
"Secondarily, we put ourselves in a position to do that by not overextending. I think we went seven or eight years or so without doing a nine figure contract. Not that we didn't try at times, but we always have our limits and we're always willing to walk away. Hopefully that discipline has put us in the position to bet on the right player and the right players, but ... this contract doesn't represent a departure from our normal modus operandi of trying to find value, maintain discipline and build a diversified roster of young players and the right veterans."
The announcement gave the Red Sox and Gonzalez something to smile about amid what has been one of the most disappointing starts to a season in team history. Boston is 2-9 after 11 games for just the fourth time in club history, and first since 1996.
With players like Gonzalez and Crawford added to a team that includes fixtures like Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and Jon Lester, the Red Sox fully expect to rebound soon.
In fact, Epstein cited Gonzalez as a player who has demonstrated leadership during the tough early portion of the season.
"We are disappointed," Gonzalez said. "It's something that you never want to start this way, but we know we have faith in ourselves. We know we're a better team than the 2-9 start, and we're going to turn this around. The one good thing about starting 2-9, it means we're going to win a lot more games than we're going to lose going forward. I know, and I'm fully confident that come September, we're going to be in the middle of a pennant race and in position that we're going to make the playoffs."
Since Mark Teixeira chose the Yankees in December 2008, Epstein had targeted Gonzalez as the run producer who could carry the middle of Boston's batting order.
Just before the start of the 2010 Winter Meetings, the Red Sox and Padres agreed in principle on a deal that sent three highly-regarded prospects -- Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes -- to San Diego for Gonzalez, a player Epstein had long coveted. Boston later sent a fourth player, Eric Patterson, to San Diego.
Before agreeing to the trade, the Red Sox brought Gonzalez into Boston for a physical and an exclusive window to negotiate a contract extension.
Despite no deal being reached at the time, a foundation of trust was built between Gonzalez and Red Sox owner John Henry, as well as Epstein.
In the end, the Red Sox and Gonzalez had a mutual understanding that a deal could be reached in time, and that the first baseman would prioritize a long-term deal with Boston rather than testing his considerable worth on the free-agent market.
"Back at the time of the trade, during that window, we had a lot of discussion about the contract, but we never came to an agreement," Epstein said. "There was a general feeling like we weren't too far apart."
There were two other reasons Boston felt compelled to wait before signing a new deal with Gonzalez.
The first is that he was coming off right shoulder surgery, so they could spend Spring Training and the early part of the season confirming there were no lingering issues there. The second was a financial reason. If the Red Sox and Gonzalez had signed the deal before the start of the season, Gonzalez's new average annual value would be counted against Boston's revenue-sharing calculations for 2011.
By announcing it once the season had started, Gonzalez's $6.2 million salary for this season is the one entered into Boston's collective bargaining tax for 2011. The Sox did the same thing with Josh Beckett's new contract a year ago.
Gonzalez is hitting .268 with one homer and seven RBIs in 11 games. The left-handed hitter is a three-time All-Star and two-time National League Gold Glove Award winner.
The 28-year-old Gonzalez, who broke into the Majors with Texas in 2004, has played in 858 games in his career, hitting .284 with 169 homers and 532 RBIs.
"We talked about this the other day -- we had a pretty good idea about what we were getting," said manager Terry Francona. "But it's nice to see all the things you hear. And we talked the same thing when we talked Victor Martinez, we knew all of it. But when you see it, it's kind of reassuring. Especially, we go through a tough week, he's been so positive. And like I said, he gets it. He understands why we're here."