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11/20/09 9:56 PM EST

Boras clients high on Red Sox's list

Club reportedly contacts agent about Holliday, Ankiel

BOSTON -- It seems that every winter, the Red Sox always have plenty to talk about with agent Scott Boras. That could again be the case, with the Boston Herald -- citing a baseball source -- reporting Friday night that Boston has expressed at least some level of interest in outfielders Matt Holliday and Rick Ankiel, as well as lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez and third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Yes, all four of those players are represented by Boras.

The Red Sox and Boras, at the very least, discussed Holliday at the General Managers Meetings this month in Chicago. However, it is believed that Boston general manager Theo Epstein's preference is to retain Jason Bay, who is also a free agent. Look for Boston to ratchet its interest in Holliday only if Bay starts to slip away.

Bay and Holliday are, in the minds of most, the top two sluggers in this free-agent market.

For the Red Sox in 2009, Bay clubbed 36 homers and had 119 RBIs. In a year split between the Athletics and Cardinals, Holliday hit .313 with 24 homers and 109 RBIs.

As for Beltre, who is coming off a down year (.265, eight homers, 44 RBIs) with the Mariners, he would seem to be a fit for Boston only if veteran Mike Lowell was moved in a trade.

A big part of Beltre's allure to the Red Sox would be his defense. Although Lowell has been a superb defender most of his career, his range was reduced in 2009 from the right hip surgery he had after the 2008 season. Epstein has said several times this winter that one of the areas where the Red Sox need to improve most is defense.

Gonzalez was a member of the Red Sox organization for nine days in 2003 when he was acquired along with Scott Sauerbeck in a deal with the Pirates. But he had to be returned to Pittsburgh nine days later because of an injury complication to another player involved in the trade.

The 31-year-old Gonzalez notched a 2.42 ERA in 80 games for the Braves in '09. He could help fill a lefty void in the bullpen if Billy Wagner signs elsewhere. The Red Sox still have Hideki Okajima, so Gonzalez would be more of a luxury than a necessity.

It remains to be seen how Ankiel would fit in, as Boston's outfield situation will be in limbo until the Bay situation is resolved. The center fielder has some pop in his bat, but had a significant drop-off in '09 (11 homers, 38 RBIs) after clubbing 25 homers the season before. He is not a big on-base threat (.311 career OBP), which goes against Boston's organizational philosophy.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.