Beckett, Red Sox said to be nearing deal

Contract talks between the Red Sox and star right-hander Josh Beckett are said to be progressing, with growing optimism about a new deal emerging.

Beckett and the Red Sox have an excellent relationship, and people familiar with the talks say both sides expect a deal to be reached in the coming weeks that will keep Beckett in Boston for years to come.

Beckett, who went 17-6 last season, is currently eligible for free agency after this season.

The Red Sox have one of the best rotation trios in baseball with Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey and appear intent on keeping that triumvirate together. Beckett, who has helped the Red Sox and the Marlins win World Series, is also said to love playing in Boston.

It's not known how much money the sides are discussing, but competing executives speculate that Lackey's five-year, $82.5 million deal is probably a fair barometer.

Beckett, who's set to make $12 million this year, could earn about $70 million over four years on top of his current deal if the goal is to replicate Lackey's deal, although it's believed he's seeking something a bit longer, perhaps a five-year extension.

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