Still unclear when deal will be finalized

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A Boston Red Sox source with direct knowledge of talks between the club and pitcher Josh Beckett said Wednesday night that "we are making progress" but said he wasn't sure when the deal would be closed.

The official's comments added further support to the report by ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that, according to sources close to Beckett, the Red Sox had made a four-year offer to the right-hander in the $65 million to $70 million range.

A source close to negotiations had told ESPNBoston.com last weekend that the Sox would not go beyond a four-year deal, even though they had given John Lackey a five-year, $82.5 million contract last winter.

At 30, Beckett is a year younger than Lackey, but it appears concerns about Beckett's right shoulder long-term have dissuaded the Red Sox from going to a fifth year. If the Red Sox and Beckett agree on a four-year extension, his contract would expire the same year as Lackey's, in 2014.

Early in his minor league career, Beckett had evidence of some fraying in his rotator cuff, which led his former team, the Florida Marlins, to limit how much he threw, according to a major league source.

And when the Red Sox acquired Beckett from the Marlins in 2005, team officials who inspected his medical records were concerned about his shoulder, but not enough to walk away from the deal, according to a baseball source with direct knowledge of those trade negotiations.

Beckett is to be paid $12 million this year, the option year of the guaranteed three-year, $30 million extension he signed in 2006. (There was a $2 million buyout if the Red Sox did not exercise the 2010 option.)

Earlier this spring, a source told ESPNBoston.com it was Beckett's strong preference to get an extension wrapped up before the end of spring training, but it seems negotiations will continue into the season if nothing is wrapped up before Sunday's opener. Beckett signed his first extension with the Red Sox in the middle of the 2006 season.

Beckett is coming off a 17-win season and has won 65 games in four seasons in Boston. He is scheduled to pitch Major League Baseball's regular-season opener Sunday night at Fenway Park against the New York Yankees.

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.