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.

John Farrell will return to manage Red Sox in 2016

John Farrell
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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John Farrell will return to manage the Red Sox next season, provided he is healthy enough to do so, the club announced Sunday morning in a press release.

Torey Lovullo, who has been serving as Boston’s interim manager since Farrell was diagnosed with lymphoma, signed a two-year contract to return as Farrell’s bench coach. Lovullo also forfeited his right to pursue another managerial role with the new deal.

Farrell guided the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2013 and the problems with the Red Sox over the last two seasons have been more about roster construction.

Dave Dombrowski took over the front office from Ben Cherington back in mid-August and will try to turn things around this winter.

All of the other coaches on Farrell’s staff will return except first-base coach Arnie Beyeler.

Piscotty returns to Cardinals lineup after concussion

Stephen Piscotty
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
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Stephen Piscotty took the brunt of a frightening outfield collision last week at PNC Park, but he only suffered a mild concussion and was cleared for baseball activities a couple days later.

Now he is back in the Cardinals’ starting lineup, batting second and playing right field Sunday in the first half of a doubleheader against the Braves at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

Piscotty has an impressive .867 OPS with seven home runs and 39 RBI over his first 62 major league games. He should be a big part of the Cardinals’ postseason push, drawing starts in the corner outfield spots and at first base.

St. Louis will get either the Pirates or Cubs in the NLDS.