BOSTON (AP) – One reason John Henry sold the Marlins was the lack of government money for a new ballpark. Florida’s failure to get a stadium deal is helping Henry, now the owner of the Boston Red Sox, obtain one of baseball’s best young pitchers.

Only physicals stand in the way of a trade that would bring 2003 World Series MVP Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell to Boston for three prospects: shortstop Hanley Ramirez and right-handed pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado.

The preliminary agreement was confirmed Monday by a baseball official who did not want to be identified because the physicals had not been completed. Beckett, Florida’s ace right-hander, had a stiff shoulder late last season and has been plagued by blisters on his right middle finger.

Boston had not contacted Lowell about scheduling a physical. The Red Sox had no comment Tuesday on when physicals might take place, but the Marlins did set a date – for when they might move out of Miami.

They said they plan to slash payroll and received permission from the commissioner’s office to explore a move after the 2007 season. A plan to build a 38,000-seat stadium next to the Orange Bowl crumbled last April when the state Senate refused to go along with House approval of $60 million in state funding.

Owner Jeffrey Loria, who bought the team when Henry took over the Red Sox in February 2002, prefers to stay in South Florida but is now willing to investigate relocation, Marlins president David Samson said.

“The fiscal insanity that Jeffrey was willing to be a part of for all these years is over,” Samson said. “We’ve been asked time and time again, when does it end? And today is that day.”

In December 2000, while Henry was owner, a plan to build a $385 million stadium in downtown Miami received tentative agreement from government officials. At that time, Lowell said, “I feel strong that they can now go after some new pieces to add to our puzzle to help our team.”

Now, the Marlins want to cut the $60 million payroll they started last season with. That could lead to the departure of first baseman Carlos Delgado, who joined the team as a free agent last season. He’s due $13.5 million next season, $14.05 million in 2007 and $16 million in 2008.

The team receiving Delgado, who does not have a no-trade clause, would have to make up any difference he would pay in state income tax since Florida has none. A contract offer he rejected from the New York Mets last year included a no-trade clause.

David Sloane, Delgado’s agent, said Tuesday there was “nothing new” on the Delgado trade front.

Samson wouldn’t get into specifics of any deals, but said there would be an immediate “significant market correction” to the team’s payroll.

Beckett, 25, is eligible for salary arbitration and expected to make between $4 million and $5 million next season. He can become a free agent after the 2007 season. Lowell, 31, is owed $9 million for each of the next two seasons.

The Red Sox began last season with a $121 million payroll and have been paying for upgrades at Fenway Park. They’ve added seats above the Green Monster in left field and on the right field roof. A project scheduled for completion for next season replaces the enclosed .406 Club seating area behind home plate with open-air premium seats.

The team also is buying property around Fenway Park. It could save some money by trading left-fielder Manny Ramirez, who is scheduled to earn $57 million in the remaining three years of his eight-year contract. His latest request for a trade came after the season and, with 10 seasons in the majors and the last five with the same team, he can reject any deal.

David Ortiz doubts that Ramirez will be with the Red Sox next season.

“Manny is not returning to Boston,” Ortiz said Monday in the Dominican Republic. “Manny lives a difficult situation that only he and his family know about, and he does not want to play there.”

Ortiz and Ramirez batted third and fourth last season and combined for 92 homers and 292 RBIs. Ortiz finished second in the AL MVP voting and Ramirez was fourth.


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