BOSTON - While free agency creeps along and the Red Sox continue their pursuit of relief pitching, the team too has actively tried to lock up at least one member of its core.
The Sox have recently had extension talks with one of their current players, talks that may pick up again soon, sources told NBC Sports Boston. It's unclear which player the Sox engaged, but indications are it is a player who would require a large commitment - hence, a possible reason the team is engaging one player, rather than a bevy all at once.
Regardless of the outcome of these particular negotiations, the fact the Sox are pursuing them is notable validation of the club's stated intent to look toward the future with an already high payroll by attempting to lock up their beloved stars after a 2018 World Series title.
Speculation among industry sources pegged Andrew Benintendi as a likely candidate the Sox have been engaged with. Sources said the team does not appear to have anything brewing at present with Chris Sale, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts or J.D. Martinez - other high-profile players who would need a large commitment.
Now, a lack of current or recent engagement with Sale, Betts and co., does not necessarily mean the Sox lack interest in locking them up. But Benintendi naturally has more incentive to work out a long-term deal, because he has just two years of service time and therefore remains a year away from becoming arbitration-eligible. He's four years away from free agency, and a deal for him would inevitably require some concession of potential earnings - a trade-off of security for him in exchange for cost certainty and likely some savings for the Sox.
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Sale, meanwhile, is a year from free agency and could command a huge haul, and the Sox already have starting pitchers David Price and Nate Eovaldi under contract.
Betts, the reigning MVP, likely still wants to see what Manny Machado and Bryce Harper pull in, as their markets will impact his two years from now. Bogaerts and Martinez, meanwhile, are Scott Boras clients who are likely to command big bucks just a year from now.
Benintendi, entering his age-24 season, slashed .290/.366/.465/.830 in 2018 with 16 home runs. If indeed he is the recent target, there are a lot of comps for the sides to look at.
Extensions for players with two years of service time have ranged widely, and there have been many, per MLBTradeRumors.com's Extension Tracker. Buster Posey of the Giants and Mike Trout of the Angels both agreed to nine-figure deals with two-plus years of service time.
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Recently, Rougned Odor of the Rangers received $49.5 million for six years in 2017. Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays got $53.5 million over six seasons in 2017 as well. Ender Inciarte of the Braves and Odubel Herrera of the Phillies both got five years and about $30.5 million in 2016.
Jason Kipnis of the Indians got six years and $52.5 million from the Indians in 2014, while Andrew McCutchen got six years and $51.5 million from the Pirates in 2012.
Carlos Gonzalez signed for seven years and $80 million with the Rockies in 2011. Hanley Ramirez signed for six years and $70 million with the Marlins in 2008.
The Red Sox gave Jon Lester a five-year, $30 million extension in 2009 with two years of service time. Clay Buchholz got a four-year, $29.25 million deal in 2011.
On the position player side, Dustin Pedroia in 2008 signed with the Sox for six years and $40.5 million.
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