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Red Sox now must decide: Salary arbitration?

After reportedly having dinner with right-hander Pedro Martinez last Thursday, Mets general manager Omar Minaya has made an offer that tops the one the Red Sox submitted.

The Red Sox reportedly have offered Martinez a two-year, $25.5 million contract with a vesting option for 2007 that would kick in if the right-hander remains healthy. The Mets countered late Sunday with a three-year guaranteed contract worth approximately $38 million with a vesting option for a fourth year that could make package worth $50 million.

Perhaps waiting on an offer from the Yankees, the free-agent ace isn't close to making a decision on where to
sign, a person close to Martinez said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

The Red Sox must decide by Dec. 7 whether to offer salary arbitration, which would
extend the window for the World Series champion Red Sox to re-sign Martinez until Jan. 8.

Martinez's agent, Fernando Cuza, would not comment on the Mets'
proposal, which was first reported Tuesday in several New York and
Boston newspapers. New Mets general manager Omar Minaya declined
comment.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner met with Martinez in Tampa,
Fla., on Nov. 18, and Martinez also met in Florida with New York
third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

But the Yankees' primary interest in recent days appears to be Randy Johnson, the 41-year-old left-hander who would prefer to leave the
rebuilding Diamondbacks and play for a contender. The Yankees and
Diamondbacks have been discussing a trade involving the five-time
Cy Young Award winner for several weeks, but talks haven't gained
any momentum, several baseball officials said.

Steinbrenner met in Tampa with top aides Mark Newman and Billy
Connors on Tuesday.

Boston, coming off its first World Series title since 1918, has
not publicly discussed its offer to retain Martinez, who teamed
with Curt Schilling to give the Red Sox a powerful starting
rotation.

A 33-year-old right-hander who has won three Cy Young Awards,
Martinez's ERA rose from 2.22 to 3.90 last season, the highest of
his career. He went 16-9 in 33 starts, his most losses since 1996.

He has excelled at Shea Stadium, going 5-1 with a 1.17 ERA in
five starts and two relief appearances, according to the Elias
Sports Bureau.

The six-time All-Star went 117-37 with a 2.52 ERA for the Red
Sox over the past seven seasons, and has a 182-76 record and 2.71
ERA in a 13-year major league career that also included stints with
Los Angeles and Montreal.

Under the Mets' plan, the option year would become guaranteed if
Martinez reached performance levels, similar to Tom Glavine's deal
with New York. Glavine's contract calls for the 2006 option to be
guaranteed if he pitches 200 innings next season or 560 over
2003-05. He has 395 2/3 innings in his first two seasons.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.