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Tuesday, December 7, 2004
Red Sox to meet with Pedro in Dominican news services

BOSTON -- The Red Sox offered arbitration to nine players Tuesday, including three key players who helped the club win its first World Series since 1918.

Now comes the hard part -- convincing them to stay.

Derek Lowe

Jason Varitek
Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek were offered salary arbitration, giving the team until Jan. 8 to re-sign the three players.

"Some of them were offered arbitration with the understanding they won't accept arbitration," general manager Theo Epstein said.

He refused to say whether Martinez was in that group but said the mere offer gives the team and the players more time to gather information that could affect the decision.

The Red Sox could get a better idea of where they stand with Martinez when principal owner John Henry and chief executive Larry Lucchino visit him Wednesday in the Dominican Republic. They said they will meet with Martinez during their trip to his home country to attend the first anniversary of the opening of the Red Sox baseball academy outside Santo Domingo.

"It's my understanding that John and Larry were going down to the Dominican in any case," Epstein said. "It certainly makes sense, given the fact that they're down there, to check in on our players."

Martinez met with New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner last month and has received offers from the Red Sox and New York Mets.

The Red Sox reportedly have offered Martinez a two-year, $25.5 million contract with a vesting option for 2007 that would kick in if the right-hander remains healthy. The Mets countered Nov. 29 with a three-year guaranteed contract worth approximately $38 million with a vesting option for a fourth year that could make the package worth $50 million.

There have been few indications that Lowe is a priority for the Red Sox and he didn't attend a celebration of their championship on Monday night in Fort Myers, Fla., where he lives and where the team holds spring training.

"That's unfortunate," said Epstein, who believes Lowe was invited. "Derek was a huge part of our 2004 year and has been a terrific contributor to the organization for many years and, as of right now, he's still very much part of the Red Sox."

The team is far more likely to bring back Varitek.

"Jason's a priority for us," Epstein said. "We don't want to build a team without Jason Varitek. We might have to but we don't want to."

Varitek reportedly has asked for a $55 million, five-year contract with a no-trade clause. He has two daughters, ages 3 and 4, and stressed that he wants a deal that will provide stability for his family.

Shortstop Orlando Cabrera, pitchers Pedro Astacio and Mike Myers, infielder Pokey Reese and first baseman David McCarty also were offered arbitration, along with outfielder Gabe Kapler, who already signed with Japan's Yomiuri Giants. Players have until Dec. 19 to accept the offers.

Boston didn't offer arbitration to right-handers Terry Adams, Curtis Leskanic, Ramiro Mendoza and Scott Williamson; infielder Ricky Gutierrez; and designated hitter Ellis Burks, who plans to retire. The Red Sox can't re-sign them until May 1, meaning the team effectively cut ties with that group.

By offering arbitration, the Red Sox would receive amateur draft picks as compensation for losing top free agents.

Epstein will travel Thursday to Anaheim, Calif., for baseball's winter meetings, which run from Friday through Monday. He said it's difficult to predict if deals will be completed there.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.