The Red Sox came to terms late last night with free agent lefthander David Wells on a two-year contract for a guaranteed $8 million, plus an additional $10 million in performance incentives that could make the total package worth $18 million.
Under the terms of the agreement, Wells would receive a $3 million signing bonus and have a base salary of $2.5 million in 2005 and 2006. He also would have the opportunity to earn an additional $5 million in performance bonuses in each year of the contract. The deal will not be official until Wells passes a physical, reportedly scheduled for Tuesday.
Wells, who turns 42 in May, is expected to take the place of place of Derek Lowe as the No. 3 starter in the rotation.
General manager Theo Epstein planned to meet as early as today with Pedro Martinez’s agent, Fernando Cuza, to try to complete contract talks with the three-time Cy Young Award winner. Expectations that the parties would close the final holes in their negotiations seemed to soar in the afterglow of a cordial meeting between Martinez and Sox executives Wednesday in the Dominican Republic.
But Epstein flatly refuted a Boston radio report that the Sox had signed Martinez for $40 million over three years, though the terms are likely close to what it would take to retain him. The GM also seemed to dampen optimism that the Sox would broker a big deal or sign any top free agent before the meetings end Monday.
“There’s probably a good chance we’ll do something,” Epstein said. “It might be something small. I’d say it’s probably better than 50-50 that we do something before we get out of here, but I could be wrong.”
The Red Sox last night also were talking about a deal with the Padres in which they would send outfielder Dave Roberts to San Diego for shortstop Ramon Vazquez and outfielder Jay Payton. The Sox also were making a run at free agent shortstop Edgar Renteria, who earlier this week was offered salary arbitration by the St. Louis Cardinals. The relatively low base salary for Wells gives the Sox leverage to make a strong bid for Renteria.
The Mets remained contenders for Martinez, though no other team had yet been identified as making a formal offer. The Angels and Cardinals, who were considered possible suitors, have yet to present Martinez a proposal, though the Angels may have some interest in the lower-priced Derek Lowe. A Cardinals executive said yesterday that St. Louis was not pursuing Martinez.