Red Sox now must decide: Salary arbitration?

Originally Published: November 30, 2004 news services

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.

Pedro Martinez
Starting Pitcher
Boston Red Sox
33 16 9 0 227 3.90

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.