Red Sox keep World Series MVP Lowell with three-year deal

Mike Lowell and the Boston Red Sox finalized a three-year, $37.5 million deal Tuesday.

Both sides have been in intense negotiations all Monday. According to ESPN's Peter Gammons, both the Phillies and Dodgers were apparently willing to go to four years, but Lowell wanted to remain in Boston.

"I feel the fans have embraced me, and I feel like I've
embraced the fan base of Boston since Day 1," he said.

According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Phillies engaged the free-agent third baseman in a conference call on Sunday night, where the framework of a four-year, $50 million deal was discussed. After Lowell spoke with general manager Pat Gillick, assistant GM Ruben Amaro and manager Charlie Manuel, there was a period of about an hour or so where it looked like Lowell was going to sign with the Phillies. The offer would have been formalized if Lowell had agreed to the deal.

Gillick last week flatly denied any interest in Lowell and had indicated that they were going to spend the Phillies' available money on pitching.

Sam Levinson, one of his agents, joked about the contract
length, asking the first question on a telephone conference call
and inquiring whether Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein would
add a fourth year.

"Well Sam. I've heard you ask that before," Epstein said,
chuckling. "We're going to hold off. We're very happy with the
contract that we signed Mike to and look forward to a great three
years. Appreciate the interest, though."

Another possibility was the New York Yankees, who wanted Lowell to switch to first and could've hurt
their major rival with the signing.

"This utter hatred for the organization I just don't have
because they actually helped me in a big way," said Lowell, who
was drafted by the Yankees and came up through their organization.

His interest in New York "was somewhat diminished by the fact
of moving to first," he said.

Lowell gets $12 million in each of the next three years and a
$1.5 million signing bonus.

"The tough part was searching between four years from other
teams and three years with the Red Sox, but I can't say that I'm
upset with the situation," Lowell said. "I mean, how can you be upset with the
money that I'm going to be making in the next three years and with
the team that I believe is going to compete for a world title."

In the three weeks since winning their second championship in
four seasons, the Red Sox have re-signed their two biggest free
agents, Lowell and pitcher Curt Schilling, and picked up options on
Tim Wakefield and Julian Tavarez.

"How cool is that?" Red Sox pitcher Schilling posted on
his blog. "Leaving years and dollars on the table to come back
here for three more years, good stuff. Pretty nice to think you are
fans in a town that is now a desired destination for athletes
across the major sports. Come a long way for sure.

"Congrats to Mike and I've already spoken with a few guys on
the team and suffice to say we're all" ecstatic, Schilling said.

Lowell followed a superlative regular season -- career highs in batting average (.324) and RBIs (120) to go with 21 home runs in 154 games -- with an outstanding October. In Boston's four-game sweep of Colorado, Lowell hit .400 (6-for-15) with four RBIs, three walks and a team-high six runs in winning the World Series.

He homered, doubled and scored twice in the Game 4 clincher at Denver's Coors Field en route to being named the World Series MVP.

Lowell, who made
$9 million last year, was selected by the Yankees in the 20th round of the 1995 amateur draft. He played eight games for New York in the 1998 season before being dealt to the Florida Marlins in February 1999. He was acquired by Boston from Florida in November 2005 in the Josh Beckett trade.

Lowell's teammates and fans made clear that they wanted to see
him back in Boston -- and urged them not to pursue Yankees third
baseman Alex Rodriguez, who became a free agent before deciding to
return to New York.

"Forget about A-Rod. We've got Mike Lowell in the house,"
Ramirez yelled out during the team's victory parade through Boston.

A four-time All-Star, Lowell was the honorary grand marshal at a
Disney World parade last week. In announcing his new contract, the
team also said Lowell had been named this year's Thomas A. Yawkey
Award recipient, as the team's most valuable player. He becomes
just the third Red Sox third baseman to win the award, after Frank
Malzone in 1957 and 1959, and Wade Boggs in 1985.

The other remaining Red Sox free agents are backup outfielders
Bobby Kielty and Eric Hinske, shortstop Royce Clayton, relievers
Eric Gagne and Mike Timlin and backup catcher Doug Mirabelli.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.