Jon Heyman of SI.com was the first to report that the Boston Red Sox have let the deal for San Diego Padre's All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez fall through, after Gonzalez and Boston could not reach terms for a contract extension.
Major League Baseball had given both sides a 2 p.m. deadline to reach an extension.
However, does this mean that Gonzalez isn't coming to Boston? ESPN insider Buster Olney doesnt think so, and he gave his opinion earlier today on EPSN News:
"Does this mean the deal is dead? Not necessarily, because the Red Sox and Padres could still agree to the deal ... if the Red Sox felt confident going forward that they could work something else out. I have talked to someone who's been involved in these conversations who told me that he felt if the Red Sox ever got the sense that they couldn't work out an extension with Gonzalez they would walk away, that they would not give up their top prospects without having some sense that Gonzalez was going to sign with them...
The Gap when they started talking was pretty enormous because on the Gonzalez side, they were looking for a Mark Teixeira like $180 million deal, [and] I think the Red Sox were looking to come in at $120 [million], so as they began talks yesterday, there was an enormous difference of opinion over what he should be paid.
I don't know the mechanics and the timing of how it's going to get done, but I still think that when the 2011 season opens, that Adrian Gonzalez will be a Red Sox first baseman...
He's too important to them, they swung and missed at Mark Teixeira, [which] turned out to be a really pivotal moment in their history, now they have an opportunity to get someone who's very much like Teixeira and they've agreed to the players, I gotta believe that at some point the Red Sox, obviously a big market team with a lot of resources will find out some way to bridge the gap over what the differences are, what they're offering, and what Adrian Gonzalez' side wants."
What Olney is saying makes a lot of sense. And taking into account that Heyman initially cited the difference of years, not dollars as the main reason that a deal did not get done is actually a good sign for Red Sox nation.
While a deal of this magnitude getting temporarily nixed is never good, Red Sox fans should avoid going completely crazy. A few facts remain that should be taken into consideration:
First off, the Padres have already said that they wouldn't field new offers if the current deal with the Red Sox fell through. This would seem to indicate that the Padres are just as committed to getting the deal done as the Red Sox are.
Second, the Padres have already said that they have no intentions of re-signing the slugger, and that letting him walk and taking compensation picks aren't to their liking.
This would seem to indicate that getting a deal done before the season starts is their top priority, yet they have no leverage in any negotiations, as every other team knows that the Padres won't re-sign him.
Third, Padres general manager Jed Hoyer, a former Red Sox assistant GM, enjoys intimate knowledge of the Red Sox farm system. Even if this deal doesn't work out, he knows the inner workings of the Red Sox organization better than any other GM in baseball (save Theo Epstein), and a deal involving some of the same or other players could surface at any time.
Fourth, the Red Sox were the only team to put a legitimate offer on the table, and it remains to be seen what other organization would be willing to part with such top prospects as well as give Gonzalez the eight years and $180 million that he's looking for.
Reports have mentioned the Cubs as possible suitors, but they've been unwilling to discuss some of their top prospects like Brett Jackson, Tyler Colvin, Hak-Ju Lee, Andrew Cashner, etc.
Fifth, the deal wasn't put on hold due to a difference of players, just a difference of money. When it comes down to it, the Red Sox can afford to pay Gonzalez what he wants.
Jayson Werth is now a Nat, Carl Crawford is looking for an exorbitant amount of money and is fielding interest from multiple teams, Victor Martinez is gone, and Adrian Beltre could soon follow suit.
The Red Sox need Gonzalez's bat if they want to create a power swing in the AL East. Offensively, they'd do fine without him but his acquisition could make the Sox the clear favorites in the East.
Sixth, waiting to officially extend Gonzalez until after the season starts would save the Red Sox money on the annual MLB luxury tax.
Finally, GM Theo Epstein has been after Adrian Gonzalez for years. There's probably no other player, save for Felix Hernandez, who he would rather see in a Red Sox uniform. Gonzalez is the perfect fit for Boston, and Epstein knows it.
He fits into the Red Sox philosophy too well to let a chance to acquire him go to waste. This seems to be one of those situations where even if the underlying factors can make things muddy, at the end of the day the Sox will get their man.
Is this situation painful to Red Sox fans? Sure. To have a player of Gonzalez' caliber dangled in front of our noses only to have the deal put on hold is excruciating.
Kind of like watching Daisuke pitch.
The current situation is a feather in every Yankee's fans cap and throws the rest of the off-season into a shade of uncertainty. But is it time to start jumping off the Zakim bridge? Not yet. Let's have a little faith, that the front office will (hopefully) do the right thing.
UPDATE: 8:33 p.m.—Multiple reports are filing in that the Red Sox are finalizing the Gonzalez deal, however with no contract extension (yet). Looks like any "panic" was short-lived. Long live Theo?
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