Report: Adrian Beltre wants to stay

Maybe Kevin Youkilis won't have to move back to third base after all.

Free agent Adrian Beltre, who manned the hot corner for the Boston Red Sox last season, said Thursday that he hopes to return to Boston next season.

"These guys are my friends and they made me feel part of the team," he told the Boston Globe. "There's a lot going on right now, but I do hope I stay with the Red Sox."

Beltre flew from Los Angeles to the Dominican Republic on Thursday to help David Ortiz with a charity event, according to the newspaper.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is heading to next week's winter meetings in Orlando trying to secure either a third baseman or a first baseman, with Youkilis moving back over to his old position.

It's unclear what kind of offer the Red Sox have on the table for Beltre, but the Oakland Athletics have been widely reported to have made a five-year, $64 million offer to the third baseman.

Officials of two clubs monitoring Beltre's negotiations told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark they believe Beltre could sign with the A's quickly. However, Beltre told the Globe he was taking his time.

"I could make a deal right now if I wanted to," he said. "But I want to wait and make sure I make the right decision."

Beltre, who hit .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBIs last season for the Red Sox, also told the newspaper that he "liked the atmosphere" at Fenway Park and that all things being equal he would choose to return to the Red Sox.

He also said, however, that the "number of years [in a contract] is what is important to me."

Beltre signed a one-year, free-agent contract with the Red Sox last offseason and went on to make his first All-Star team and win the Silver Slugger Award as the top-hitting third baseman.

On the first base front, the Red Sox, according to a baseball source, have had conversations with the agents for free agent Derrek Lee, who was not offered arbitration by the Braves and thus would not cost the Red Sox draft picks if they sign him.

Before the San Francisco Giants re-signed Aubrey Huff, the Red Sox also talked to his agent early in the process, a further indication that they are looking at contingency plans at first base.

Among free-agent first basemen, the only other names that could be attractive for the Red Sox are Adam LaRoche, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena and Ty Wigginton. And there is also the likelihood that the Red Sox once again step up their pursuit of a trade for San Diego Padres star Adrian Gonzalez, who is entering the final year of his deal.

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was used in this report.