Helton says he likely would OK trade to Red Sox

If the Rockies and Red Sox can agree to a deal that would send Todd Helton to Boston, the first baseman told The Denver Post that he likely wouldn't veto the trade.

Helton, who has a complete no-trade clause, wouldn't confirm that he had set a deadline for a trade to be worked out, but told the Post "yes" when asked if he would consider accepting a trade to the Red Sox.

Sources told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney that the Rockies are in high-level talks to trade Helton to the Red Sox in a deal that could send third baseman Mike Lowell and right-handed reliever Julian Tavarez to Colorado.

According to the Post, which first reported the talks in its Saturday editions, discussions between the clubs are set to resume Monday or Tuesday, when Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd returns to Denver after attending to a family matter out of town.

According to major league sources, conversations between the Red Sox and Rockies began last fall, and at that time, one of the sides felt there could be an acceptable framework to make a deal.

Talks resumed at the ownership level about 10 days ago and have moved forward from there. Both sides are in virtual agreement on the dollars, with the Rockies likely responsible for slightly less than half of
Helton's remaining six-year, $90.1 million guaranteed pact.

Helton is due to make $16.6 million this season (and each of the following three seasons) on a team with a projected payroll of about $55 million, something Rockies owner Charlie Monfort has called problematic.

Monfort didn't return phone calls to The Associated Press over the weekend, but he told mlb.com that Helton, who has a complete no-trade clause, has indicated he would be amenable to a trade to the Red Sox.

In the current proposal, the Red Sox would send Lowell, Tavarez and prospects
to the Rockies. But the identity of the prospects could hold up the deal: The Rockies want relief pitchers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen, while the Red Sox do not want to give up either at this time.

Helton, who signed with the Rockies as a first-round pick in 1995, has starred for Colorado since 1998. He signed a nine-year, $141.5 million extension that took effect in 2003.

Lowell will earn $9 million next season, the final year of his contract. Tavarez is guaranteed $3.1 million next season with a $3.85 million option for 2008 that is guaranteed if he makes 65 appearances.

If Lowell comes to Denver, Garrett Atkins would likely move to
first base, although there are other possibilities such as accelerating the arrival of 25-year-old Joe Koshansky, who has led the organization in homers the last two seasons and is projected to play first base at Triple-A Colorado Springs this year.

Koshansky hit .284 with 31 homers and 109 RBIs at Double-A Tulsa last season.

The Rockies said this winter that they were open to dealing Helton and they had discussions with the Los Angeles Angels at the winter meetings but those talks didn't go far.

After averaging 35 homers and 117 RBIs over the previous seven seasons, Helton's numbers dipped in 2005, when he hit .320 with 20 homers and 79 RBIs while he was playing with a bad back. He also made his first career trip to the disabled list with a strained calf.

An intestinal infection sent him to the DL again last May and he never regained his strength, weight or power stroke upon his return, finishing with just 15 homers, a .302 batting average and 81 RBIs.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.