LA JOLLA, Calif. -- During their negotiations prior to officially acquiring Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego Padres, the Boston Red Sox were told by Gonzalez that the terms he would seek on a contract extension would not change between December and the start of the season, even if Albert Pujols set the market with a mega-deal in the interim.
According to Gonzalez, that was a key concern for the Red Sox, who would have been in a tough spot had Pujols -- who, like Gonzalez, is eligible for free agency after 2011 -- signed a contract for $30 million-plus a season.
If that happened, Gonzalez could turn around and tell the Red Sox, sorry, but what would have gotten a deal done in December no longer holds water in April. The price has changed, and if you don't meet it, we'll just go out on the market after the season.
Gonzalez said he assured the Red Sox that would not happen.
"I made a comment to [Red Sox general manager] Theo [Epstein], 'Make the trade happen by itself, and I promise you during the season I'll negotiate,' " Gonzalez told ESPNBoston.com. "I'm not going to come here and be like, 'OK, we'll see you at free agency and see if you outbid the other teams.' We'll negotiate during the season. We're going to be fair. We won't be looking for record-breaking deals. We just want market value.
"We gave them our word that we were going to negotiate during the season in good faith. We're not going to go in there and ask for Albert Pujols' contract, something along those lines.''
The Red Sox couldn't shake the notion that if Pujols signed a big deal, the shared parameters of what market value was could change overnight.
"That was one of their comments, what if he gets this humongous deal and you want to be closer to him?'' Gonzalez said. "I said, 'Trust me. What the market is today might change by then, but we're going to negotiate based on what the market is today.' ''
The Red Sox and Padres ultimately consummated the trade without a long-term contract in place, but rather a mutual understanding of what it would take to get a deal done: Something in the ballpark of seven years and $154 million, according to sources.
Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.