Report: Red Sox, Beckett progressing in talks

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SI.com’s Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox and Josh Beckett are making progress on a new deal that would keep the free-agent-to-be in Boston beyond 2010.
The two sides have been working with an unofficial Opening Day deadline as they attempt to reach a compromise. Beckett, who is entering the option year of a contract that’s paid him $40 million over four years, would surely prefer to top the five-year, $82.5 million contract that John Lackey signed with the Red Sox over the winter.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, may prove unwilling to give Beckett a true five-year deal. Heyman suggests that a four-year extension worth about $70 million would be a fair compromise. It seems reasonable. Beckett would get a higher average annual salary than Lackey after his new contract begins, and the Red Sox wouldn’t have to commit beyond 2015. While it’s a steep figure, Beckett would almost surely command a true five- or six-year deal as a free agent next winter if he if he stays healthy and tops 200 innings for the fourth time in five years.

The Giants might be ready to part ways with Hunter Pence

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Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.

The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.

Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.