Sun, Nov 30, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Schilling agrees to stay with Red Sox into 2006 season

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

Curt Schilling and the Red Sox agreed on a contract extension on Friday afternoon, completing a trade that sends him from the Arizona Diamondbacks to Boston and gives the Red Sox a formidable starting rotation for next year that features Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe.

The 37-year-old Schilling, a tough and talkative right-hander, waived his no-trade clause to complete the deal and in return received a two-year extension from the Red Sox through 2006, with an option for a third year that becomes guaranteed based on performance levels.

The completion of the deal capped a highly unusual week in which Schilling, acting as his own agent, negotiated with the Red Sox at his house while updating reporters with conversations on his front lawn or on the telephone. And before the deal was completed, Schilling even posted a message on a Red Sox Web site in which he attempted to assure fans that he was not trying to squeeze more money from Boston than he would have from the New York Yankees.

The public nature of the bargaining put increasing pressure on the Red Sox, who would have looked foolish to travel all the way to Phoenix to meet with Schilling, share a Thanksgiving dinner with him, and then come home empty-handed.

The deal provides the Red Sox, and their many fans, with a rare victory over the rival Yankees, who sought Schilling to replace the retired Roger Clemens in their starting rotation. The Yankees talked to Arizona about a deal, but the Diamondbacks' reported trade demand -- the All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano and first baseman Nick Johnson -- quickly ended those talks. Instead, the Red Sox introduced Schilling as their own on Friday night, for a package consisting of pitchers Casey Fossum and Brandon Lyon and two minor leaguers.

"It was a long process," Schilling said at Friday night's news conference announcing the deal. "It was very involved, but I'm glad it's over with."

He said at one point on Thanksgiving night that he was pessimistic that a deal would get done.

He said that at one point on Thanksgiving night -- after a holiday meal in which Red Sox General Theo Epstein was present -- he was pessimistic a deal would get done.

"I think Theo went back and kind of put himself on the line for this, to get this done," Schilling said. "It took another step up by the Red Sox. It was going to take that to get this done."

The Schilling trade had been worked out Monday, but because he has a no-trade clause in his current contract, which runs through next season, he had to approve any transaction. Following normal procedure, Major League Baseball provided the two sides with a negotiating window that was to expire at 3pm Friday.

But on Thanksgiving, the Red Sox called Sandy Alderson, baseball's executive vice president for operations, to request that the deadline be extended 24 hours. In the end, the deal was agreed to close to the original deadline, with the final details worked out hours later. The Associated Press reported that the first two years of the extension would be worth US$25.5 million. Schilling will make US$12 million next season.

By signing Schilling, the Red Sox made their most dramatic move since the ownership group headed by John Henry took over the team two years ago.

Last winter, the Red Sox lost out to the Yankees in the bidding war over Cuban defector Jose Contreras.

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