Sox keep Wakefield with two-year deal
Pact with knuckleballer sealed at deadline to pick up option
BOSTON -- Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield will not only be back for a 16th season with the Red Sox, but likely a 17th.
Facing a Monday deadline to pick up Wakefield's $4 million club option, the Red Sox instead agreed to a two-year pact with the veteran right-hander.
While the Red Sox, as is their club policy, did not reveal terms of the deal, WEEI.com reported that it was worth a guaranteed $5 million. Wakefield will reportedly make $3.5 million in 2010 and $1.5 million in '11, with incentives giving the righty a chance to bring the total value of the contract to $10 million.
"He wants to end his career in a Red Sox uniform, which is something we would like to see as well. For us, the finances made a lot of sense," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein told a group of Boston writers at the General Managers' Meetings in Chicago.
Wakefield is coming off back surgery, which is likely the main reason behind the restructured deal. The right-hander won 11 games in the first half in 2009 to make the American League All-Star team for the first time, but a herniated disc limited him to just four starts after the break.
With two more years in Boston now likely, Wakefield has a chance to achieve two milestones he is eyeing. Wakefield is just 11 wins shy of 200 for his career, but the number that would mean even more to him is 193 wins in a Red Sox uniform, which he is currently 18 away from reaching. Cy Young and Roger Clemens are tied with 192 wins, the all-time record for a Red Sox pitcher.
"I can tell you with all seriousness that after this two-year deal's up, I probably won't play anymore," Wakefield told the Boston Herald. "It gets me to 45. It gives me an opportunity to break Roger Clemens' and Cy Young's record. It gives me a chance to get to 200 wins career-wise. That's what I'm most excited about. They understand it, and they're giving me an opportunity to get it done. That's the really cool thing about it. I'm ecstatic."
In 562 career outings, 421 of them starts, Wakefield is 189-162 with a 4.33 ERA.
"It seemed to make sense for both sides. With Wake it gives him the security," said Epstein. "He's going to be here for at least these next two years and he has some significant Red Sox records he would like to attain. And for us it gives us a little bit more payroll flexibility than it does picking up the option."
After being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wakefield came to the Red Sox as a reclamation project in 1995. A decade and a half later, Wakefield is still going strong at the age of 43.
The recovery from his back surgery is expected to be minimal, and Wakefield is expected to be at full strength for the start of Spring Training.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.