What will it take to keep Adrian Gonzalez?

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Now that the Red Sox have reached a tentative agreement to acquire Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres in exchange for right-hander Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later, it’s time to ask how much money it will take to keep him for the long-term.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com tweeted this morning that Gonzalez wants a “Howard-like contract.” And as I mentioned earlier, if that’s the case, the Red Sox should be jumping for joy.

Of course, the Phillies were panned for signing Howard to a five-year, $125 million extension in March, so what’s the difference here? Well, the extension doesn’t even begin until the 2012 season. Howard will be 32 years old by then. Gonzalez, by contrast, doesn’t turn 29 years old until next May and has been the superior player to Howard over the past three seasons.

In the end, this comp may be all wrong. Rival executives and and agents told Buster Olney of ESPN.com this morning that Gonzalez is “very much in line” to ask for a seven or eight year contract worth between $20-23 million per season, which would put him very close to the eight-year, $180 million contract Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees in December of 2008. Gonzalez compares more favorably to Teixeira than he does to Howard, so it’s not an unreasonable conclusion to make. Either way, this one stands a good chance to surpass Manny Ramirez’s eight-year, $160 million contract as the richest in franchise history.

Tom Ricketts says the Cubs don’t have any more money

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Cubs owner Tom Ricketts met the media in Mesa, Arizona today and said a couple of things that were fun.

First, he addressed the controversy that arose earlier this month when emails of his father’s — family patriarch Joe Ricketts — were leaked, showing him forwarding and approvingly commenting on racist jokes. Ricketts apologized for those serving as a “distraction” for the Cubs which, OK. He also said “Those aren’t the values our family was raised with… I never heard my father say anything remotely racist.” If you choose to believe that a 77-year-old conservative guy who loves racist emails — who once spearheaded an anti-Obama ad campaign that required a “literate African-American” as its spokesman — hasn’t said racist stuff a-plenty, that’s between you and your credulity.

More relevant to the 2019 Cubs is this:

The Cubs aren’t in the same position as some other contenders in that (a) they don’t have a cheap payroll; and (b) are not obvious candidates for the big free agents like Harper or Machado, but I still find that comment pretty rich for an owner of one of baseball’s marquee franchises in a non-salary cap league. If nothing else, it’s an admission by Ricketts that he, like the other owners, consider the Luxury Tax to be a defacto salary cap.