Adrian Gonzalez could join the Red Sox as soon as Saturday, according to a report.
The Red Sox have agreed in principle to a trade for the Padres first baseman, who has arrived in Boston to take a physical, according to an ESPN.com report. MLB also has granted the Red Sox the right to negotiate a new long-term deal with Gonzalez, who is set to become a free agent after next season.
Top prospect Casey Kelly is headed to San Diego, and the pitcher will be joined by first baseman Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Reymond Fuentes and another minor leaguer to be named.
The deal is a coup for the Red Sox, who have had their eyes on Gonzalez for some time. A San Diego native, he hit .298 with 31 homers and 101 RBI last season while posting a .393 on-base percentage.
He is set to earn $6.3 million in 2011, and expectations are any long-term deal would earn him at least $20 million a year. Boston is one of the few teams that can afford that price and look to bolster its offense further by signing a top free agent like Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford.
Gonzalez, a Gold Glove first baseman, will hold down one corner of the diamond for the Red Sox and allow Kevin Youkilis to move back to third base, replacing departing free agent Adrian Beltre. If the Red Sox add Werth or Crawford along with Gonzalez, they'll instantly be back among the game's elite after missing out on the playoffs in 2010.
The Padres, who with 90 wins in 2010 had a better year and finished closer to the playoffs than Boston, will essentially be punting their chances of contending in 2011 by dealing away their best player -- especially with no current major leaguers coming back in the deal.
But San Diego will hope for a quick turnaround in the competitive NL West, counting on its young pitching staff and the additions it makes in this deal to put the team back in contention before too long.