UPDATE: Beckett, Sox close to $68M extension

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beckett headshot.JPGUPDATE: The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber hears from colleague Michael Silverman that Beckett’s deal will be worth $68 million over four years.

6:11pm: Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Red Sox and right-hander Josh Beckett are close to agreement on a four-year contract extension worth around $70 million.

The Red Sox set out to keep the length of the 29-year-old’s new contract under five years.  It appears they have accomplished that goal, all the while agreeing to pay Beckett a handsome (and well-deserved) $17.5 million annual salary.  For reference, the Red Sox handed a five-year, $82.5 million ($16.5M per season) free agent contract to John Lackey this
offseason and a six-year, $52 million ($8.7M per season) deal to Daisuke Matsuzaka back in 2006.

Beckett, who turns 30 in May, went 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 199 strikeouts in 2009 and is
entering the final season of a three-year, $30 million extension.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.