Red Sox close to acquiring catcher Javy Lopez

Updated: August 4, 2006, 9:27 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Looking for help at catcher following the injury to captain Jason Varitek, the Red Sox are close to acquiring veteran Javy Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports.

ESPN Radio in Boston reported the deal is set, but Olney reported that the deal is not yet done. However, talks are moving forward and a deal could be in place as soon as Friday, according to Olney.

Catcher
Baltimore Orioles

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R OBP AVG
76 8 31 30 .314 .265

"We're obviously optimistic and hopeful something is about to happen," Lopez's agent, Chuck Berry, said Thursday night. "We've become aware of the Boston possibility, and there have been discussions."

Varitek had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee earlier in the day and was expected to start rehabilitation right away. The Red Sox have not given an indication of when their captain might return.

The Red Sox are competing with New York for the AL East title while the Orioles have fallen out of contention. Boston would likely send a prospect to the Orioles and pick up a portion of his salary.

At 35, Lopez is in the final season of a $22.5 million, three-year contract he signed as a free agent with the Orioles in December 2003. He got that deal after hitting .328 with 43 home runs and 109 RBI for Atlanta, his third All-Star season for the Braves.

Lopez lost spots as Baltimore's starting catcher and designated hitter this season and was hoping to get dealt before July 31, the deadline for making deals without waivers.

Lopez is hitting .265 with eight home runs and 31 RBI in 279 at-bats. He has caught in only 21 of the Orioles' 109 games as a backup to Ramon Hernandez.

"I've got no position on this team. I don't see why they really need me," Lopez said this week. "I'm not meant to play once a week. ... I cannot be happy in this situation. They probably have their plan, and I don't think they're going to keep me like this until the end of the season. They're probably going to do something sooner or later."

Berry said Orioles executive vice president Mike Flanagan had been "very cooperative" in trying to accommodate Lopez.

"They want to make something work, if it can," he said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.