BOSTON — Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis both finished in the top three of the AL Most Valuable Player voting. Now the two Boston stars will be sharing the Fenway infield for a few more seasons, too.
A baseball official told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Red Sox and Youkilis have agreed to a four-year contract that would reportedly guarantee Youkilis about $41 million. The official, who asked not to be identified because the deal had not been announced, said the financial terms first reported by ESPN.com were pretty close.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.
The deal buys out Youkilis’ last two years of arbitration eligibility and delays his chance to become a free agent by at least two years. Youkilis filed for arbitration earlier Thursday, a formality that would be negated if he passes a physical and the long-term deal is completed.
The Red Sox have not gone to arbitration since Epstein took over as GM. Closer Jonathan Papelbon and reliever Javier Lopez have also filed for arbitration this offseason.
Last month Boston locked up Pedroia, who wouldn’t have been eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season, with a six-year, $40.5 million deal. With Youkilis signed long-term, the Red Sox have two of their top young players in the fold for a run at a third World Series title since 2004.
Youkilis’ deal also includes a $13 million club option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout, ESPN.com reported.
Youkilis batted .312 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs and won the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top offensive player. But his most impressive work might have been in the field, where he moved from third base to first when the Red Sox acquired Mike Lowell, then back to third when Lowell was injured.
Youkilis, who won a Gold Glove at first base in 2007, made just four errors in 125 games there last season.
Long lauded for his on-base percentage — the book “Moneyball” dubbed him “The Greek God of Walks” — Youkilis moved into the cleanup spot in the batting order when enigmatic slugger Manny Ramirez was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. In 48 games batting fourth, Youkilis hit .299 with 10 homers, 17 doubles and 45 RBIs.
With Youkilis signed and Mark Kotsay returning to serve as a fourth outfielder and backup infielder, the biggest remaining hole is at catcher. Longtime Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek filed for free agency and declined arbitration, but Epstein has said he would not close the door on bringing Varitek back for another season.