Red Sox agree to 4-year, $36M deal with Lugo

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox reached a
preliminary agreement Tuesday with shortstop Julio Lugo that would
pay him $36 million over the next four years.

Details of the agreement were provided to The Associated Press
by a person involved in the negotiations who spoke on the condition
of anonymity because the deal was not final. Lugo must pass a
physical before the agreement is completed.

Red Sox officials did not immediately respond to a request for
comment. Boston has needed a shortstop since allowing Alex Gonzalez
to leave as a free agent, and much of its attention seemed to be
focused on Lugo.

The Red Sox insisted all along they weren't going to pay Julio Lugo $8 million a year. They were telling the truth: They're going to pay him $9 million instead.

But the big surprise is Boston's willingness to jump into another four-year commitment to a shortstop so soon after the Edgar Renteria debacle, especially since Lugo is two years older than Renteria was at the time Boston signed him.

To read more of Keith Law's analysis of the Julio Lugo deal, click here.Insider

The Red Sox had a busy day: They also reached a preliminary
agreement on a $70 million, five-year contract with outfielder
J.D. Drew.

Lugo started the 2006 season with Tampa Bay and was sent to the
Dodgers at the trading deadline. He batted .308 with 12 homers for
the Devil Rays and .219 with no homers for Los Angeles in the final
two months of the season.

Boston has been filling in gaps at shortstop since dealing
Nomar Garciaparra at the 2004 trading deadline. The Red Sox went on to
win the World Series with Orlando Cabrera that year, but let him go
as a free agent in the offseason and gave Edgar Renteria a
four-year, $40 million contract.

After just one year in which he made 30 errors, the Red Sox paid
Atlanta $11 million to take Renteria off their hands. Boston signed
Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal for $3 million, then let him go to
free agency in the offseason after he provided them with stellar
defense but hit just .255.

"I will tell you what, we saw a year of defense like I don't
know you'll ever see again, maybe even from him," manager Terry
Francona said. "You saw a spectacular shortstop have a spectacular
year. That was fun to watch."

The Red Sox are hoping prospect Dustin Pedroia could play second
base; if not, they have Alex Cora.