AP source: Red Sox ace Beckett signs through 2014

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BOSTON (AP) — Pitcher Josh Beckett and the Red Sox agreed to a $68 million, four-year contract extension through the 2014 season, a baseball official told The Associated Press on Monday.

The official spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been publicized. The Red Sox scheduled a news conference for later Monday for an announcement involving Beckett.

The MVP of the 2003 World Series for Florida and a key part of Boston’s 2007 title, Beckett pitched the opener for the Red Sox on Sunday night, allowing five runs on eight hits in 4 2-3 innings in a 9-7 victory over the New York Yankees.

By announcing the deal after the season started, Beckett’s new salary isn’t included in luxury tax calculations until next year. If the Red Sox announced it before the opener, it would have raised his average annual pay and been included in the calculations for this year, potentially increasing the team’s luxury tax.

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The extension gives the Red Sox a long-term look at one of baseball’s best rotations.

John Lackey, who signed as a free agent last offseason, is signed for five years. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz won’t be eligible for free agency until the 2014 season ends. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is starting the season on the disabled list, is under contract through 2012.

Beckett had sought a five-year deal comparable to Lackey’s, but the Red Sox were concerned about Beckett’s right shoulder. Instead, he gets a modest bump over his teammate, and a big raise from the $12.1 million he is earning this season in the option year of his previous deal.

Beckett’s best season came in 2007, when he went 20-7 with a 3.28 ERA and made his first All-Star team. He finished second in the voting for the AL Cy Young award to CC Sabathia, the left-hander Beckett faced Sunday night in the first game of the major league season, against the New York Yankees.

In the last five seasons, only Sabathia, with 82 wins, and Roy Halladay, with 81, have more than Beckett’s 80. And only five pitchers have more than Beckett’s 1,193 strikeouts over the last seven seasons.

In 2003, his second season in the majors, Beckett pitched a 2-0 complete game over the Yankees in Game 6 as the Marlins clinched the World Series. In 2007, he pitched the opening game of Boston’s Series sweep over Colorado, allowing one run in seven innings.

But in his only postseason appearance last year he gave up four runs in seven innings in Game 2 and the Los Angeles Angels won two days later to sweep the AL division series.

Beckett was 12-10 with a 4.03 ERA in 27 starts in 2008 when he went on the disabled list twice. He missed the start of the season with a lower back strain then was sidelined in late August and early September with inflammation in his right elbow.

But he bounced back last year with a 17-6 record and 3.86 ERA in 32 starts.

Beckett, who turns 30 on May 15, is 106-68 with a 3.79 ERA in his career. In 1,401 innings, he has 1,330 strikeouts.

Boston obtained Beckett after the 2005 season when he went 15-8 with a 3.38 ERA for the Marlins. The Red Sox also got third baseman Mike Lowell in the trade for shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

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AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman contributed to this report.

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