Schilling's deal with Red Sox worth $8M plus incentives
BOSTON -- The Red Sox might lighten the load on their starters, especially if Curt Schilling can keep his weight down.
Team officials have discussed using a six-man rotation next season rather than the five-man norm as Boston tries to defend its World Series championship.
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Schilling agreed to an $8 million contract Tuesday with $3 million in potential performance bonuses. He also can make an additional $2 million by meeting weight clauses -- $333,333 for each time he passes one of six random monthly weigh-ins.
The agreement was first reported by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney.
Schilling's salary in 2007 was $13 million, but he spent seven weeks on the disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder.
"The responsibility falls on me," Schilling said. "There are 2 million reasons for me to reach the weight goal."
The right-hander turns 41 next Wednesday.
"Curt recognizes the importance of reconditioning his body so he can get in the best possible shape and give him the best chance to stay healthy throughout the year," general manager Theo Epstein said on a conference call. "He didn't have a great offseason a year ago. I think that affected him in spring training and led to him going on the DL."
If the starters stay healthy, a six-man rotation would be likely.
"We've discussed that concept," Epstein said. "I think it's premature to commit to any usage pattern. But, certainly, we're in a little bit of a unique situation where a number of our starters might benefit from something like that."
Daisuke Matsuzaka pitched in a six-man rotation in Japan before joining the Red Sox last season. Tim Wakefield was kept off the World Series roster with pain behind his right shoulder. Youngsters Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz haven't spent a full season in a major league rotation. Julian Tavarez spent last season in the rotation and the bullpen, and is signed for next season.
But it would be tough to use ace Josh Beckett just once every six games.
"There's so much attrition in baseball. I think the minute we start counting on having a six-man rotation or give it any serious consideration, that's when we lose a pitcher or two in spring training," Epstein said. "I'm sure that topic will come up a lot in our internal discussions between now and spring training."
The Red Sox also would like to keep third baseman Mike Lowell, who made $9 million this year and filed for free agency after his best season. Epstein has talked with Lowell's agents.
"We're working at it," he said, "hopefully moving the ball forward a little bit each day."
Relief pitcher Mike Timlin also filed for free agency.
During spring training this year, Schilling said he would have accepted $13 million for 2008. The Red Sox preferred to wait, and Epstein called the postseason negotiations "a smooth process."
Schilling went 9-8 with a 3.87 ERA during the regular season, then added to his impressive postseason resume by going 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He is 11-2 with a 2.23 ERA in his postseason career.
Both sides seemed happy with the deal in a lean free-agent market for pitchers. Schilling also would get $1 million next year if he receives at least one vote in Cy Young Award balloting.
"I'm excited," Schilling said. "I've played 21 years. We got everything we wanted to sign. I've made over $100 million playing baseball. We're happy."
He said he had spoken with Houston and Philadelphia and could have gotten more money elsewhere. Free agents aren't allowed to talk money with all teams until Nov. 13.
"It's not too common in this day and age that someone who can get a lot more guaranteed money was willing to take the risk associated with performance bonuses and with other bonuses," Epstein said. "So he did a rare thing and we're proud of him."
Schilling said he and Epstein talked on the first two days after the Red Sox won the World Series.
"After initial discussions, the important thing was I was going to get the guarantee I wanted," Schilling said. "That got it going."
In 2004, Schilling went 21-6 and helped lead the Red Sox to their first World Series title since 1918.
He would get a $375,000 bonus for pitching 130 innings, and an additional $375,000 for every 10-inning increment up to 200.
The rotation was a bargain even before Schilling took a cut in his guaranteed salary.
Beckett, a postseason star and the only 20-game winner in the majors the last two years, is due $9.5 million next season. Matsuzaka will make $8 million, Wakefield $4 million and Tavarez $3.85 million. Lester made $384,000 last season.
The $8.5 million Boston paid Matt Clement, who missed the whole season after shoulder surgery, comes off the books.
"We're in the first week of November, but we have six or seven quality starters," Schilling said. "We have some things we need to do. We need to resign Mike. We need to keep our depth and stay healthy."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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