'Substantive' talks on Beckett deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- “Substantive discussions” have taken place between the Red Sox and pitcher Josh Beckett regarding a contract extension, with both sides aiming toward completing a deal before the start of the regular season, according to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

“There is time before the end of spring training to do a deal, and he’s the kind of guy that doesn’t let this get in the way of [his preparation for the season]," the source said.

Beckett is in the last year of a three-year, $30 million deal. The benchmark in negotiations would seem to be the five-year, $82.5 million deal the Red Sox gave to free agent John Lackey when they signed him this winter.

Beckett turns 30 on May 15. Lackey is 31 and turns 32 on Oct. 23. The health of Beckett’s arm is clearly a factor in discussions.