- Gordon Edes, Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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NEW YORK -- Two days before Tuesday's trading deadline, all appeared quiet on the Red Sox front, although one major league executive insisted Sunday night that the team is looking for a buyer for starting pitcher Josh Beckett.
"They're trying to dump him," the executive said, "but I don't think anyone would touch him without a big discount."
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington downplayed the possibility of the team trading Beckett on Friday in an interview with Boston sports radio station WEEI.
"Taking Josh Beckett off this team is not necessarily improving things," Cherington said. "We need to add, we need to improve the rotation, if anything -- improve internally or add to the rotation. I think we're sort of stuck in neutral if we start taking guys out of the rotation that are good major league pitchers."
Though the Braves have been mentioned in reports as having kicked the tires on Beckett, the team has little or no interest in dealing for him, according to a major league source.
As a 10/5 player -- 10 years in the big leagues, at least five with the same team -- Beckett has the right to veto any deal.
The Red Sox also are shopping outfielder Ryan Sweeney, the source said.
Beckett, 5-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 17 starts this season, is scheduled to face Detroit ace Justin Verlander on Tuesday night in Fenway Park.
The Red Sox had a scout in Miami to watch Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson, who walked six against the Padres on Sunday afternoon, which did little to enhance his trade value.
Johnson, Matt Garza of the Cubs and James Shields of the Rays seem to be the best starters available in a potential deal, but it would appear that the Red Sox are not prepared to surrender the quality of prospects required to acquire Johnson, and Garza has a triceps issue that will prevent him from making another start before the deadline.
Johnson also has a history of shoulder problems, and the last thing the Red Sox would seem to need is another high-priced veteran with health issues.
Manager Bobby Valentine, asked before Sunday night's game about the Red Sox's intentions, said, "I think that this organization is in it to win it all the time. I don't think ownership and the front office is thinking anything other than, 'We've got a shot.'"
That would seem to rule out the Red Sox trading such players as Cody Ross, Kelly Shoppach or Matt Albers, who would all potentially have value to a contender. Cherington already has ruled out trading pitcher Jon Lester or outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
Two days before Tuesday's trading deadline, all appeared quiet on the Red Sox front, although one major league executive insisted Sunday night that the team is looking for a buyer for starting pitcher Josh Beckett.