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Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Red Sox agree to 4-year, $36M deal with Lugo

Associated Press

 Julio Lugo
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday with shortstop Julio Lugo that would pay him $36 million over the next four years.

Details of the agreement were provided to The Associated Press by a person involved in the negotiations who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal was not final. Lugo must pass a physical before the agreement is completed.

Red Sox officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Boston has needed a shortstop since allowing Alex Gonzalez to leave as a free agent, and much of its attention seemed to be focused on Lugo.

Law's take
 Keith Law
The Red Sox insisted all along they weren't going to pay Julio Lugo $8 million a year. They were telling the truth: They're going to pay him $9 million instead.

But the big surprise is Boston's willingness to jump into another four-year commitment to a shortstop so soon after the Edgar Renteria debacle, especially since Lugo is two years older than Renteria was at the time Boston signed him.

To read more of Keith Law's analysis of the Julio Lugo deal, click here. Insider

The Red Sox had a busy day: They also reached a preliminary agreement on a $70 million, five-year contract with outfielder J.D. Drew.

Lugo started the 2006 season with Tampa Bay and was sent to the Dodgers at the trading deadline. He batted .308 with 12 homers for the Devil Rays and .219 with no homers for Los Angeles in the final two months of the season.

Boston has been filling in gaps at shortstop since dealing Nomar Garciaparra at the 2004 trading deadline. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series with Orlando Cabrera that year, but let him go as a free agent in the offseason and gave Edgar Renteria a four-year, $40 million contract.

After just one year in which he made 30 errors, the Red Sox paid Atlanta $11 million to take Renteria off their hands. Boston signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal for $3 million, then let him go to free agency in the offseason after he provided them with stellar defense but hit just .255.

"I will tell you what, we saw a year of defense like I don't know you'll ever see again, maybe even from him," manager Terry Francona said. "You saw a spectacular shortstop have a spectacular year. That was fun to watch."

The Red Sox are hoping prospect Dustin Pedroia could play second base; if not, they have Alex Cora.