BOSTON -The Boston Red Sox were unable to reach an agreement with general manager Theo Epstein on Friday and negotiations on a new contract are expected to go on until Monday, when his current deal expires.

“Talks continue,” owner John Henry said in an e-mail.

The Red Sox do not like to announce deals on weekends, especially with the New England Patriots playing Sunday night and linebacker Tedy Bruschi expected to make an emotional return from a stroke.

“We’re not expecting any news today,” Red Sox spokesman Glenn Geffner said. “I wouldn’t imagine we’ll have an announcement over the weekend.”

Epstein reportedly rejected a three-year deal worth $1.2 million annually, triple his previous salary. The youngest general manager to build a World Series-winner, he was reported to be seeking something closer to the $2.5 million a year the Red Sox offered Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane before Epstein was hired.

Epstein and team president Larry Lucchino met on Thursday and made progress on talks, they said in a joint statement.

“We had a meeting over lunch today to continue our discussions and to conduct other business as well,” they said. “We made progress, but we anticipate no further statement until there is something to announce. We are hopeful that these discussions will work out for the best. In the meantime, we continue “business as usual.”‘

Neither Lucchino nor Epstein responded to repeated e-mails from the AP.

Damon, Graffanino file for free agency

BOSTON – Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon filed for free agency on Friday along with second baseman Tony Graffanino.

Damon hit .316 this year with 10 home runs and 75 RBIs. The team’s best relievers, Mike Timlin and Mike Myers, also are eligible to file, as are first baseman John Olerud, and reliever Matt Mantei.

Graffanino, acquired midway through the 2005 season from Kansas City, was an upgrade at second base for the Red Sox but made a damaging error during Boston’s playoff series loss to Chicago.

First baseman Kevin Millar and third baseman Bill Mueller filed for free agency on Thursday. Millar struggled much of the year, hitting only nine homers, and Mueller would cost the Red Sox more than backup Kevin Youkilis, who has split the last two seasons between the Red Sox and the minors.

Red Sox assistant GM gets Arizona job

PHOENIX -Red Sox assistant general manager Josh Byrnes was hired as general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The 35-year-old Byrnes replaces Joe Garagiola Jr., who resigned to become senior vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner’s office. Byrnes, known for his elaborate statistical analysis of the game and its players, had been assistant GM of the Red Sox since Epstein was hired as general manager in 2002.

The two worked together to develop the Boston team that won the World Series championship in 2004.


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