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Gonzalez, Reds agree on a deal

While the Red Sox were losing shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who agreed to a three-year deal worth $14 million-$15 million with the Cincinnati Reds, they were close to signing 35-year-old veteran catcher Alberto Castillo to a minor league deal with the probability that he will compete for a major league backup job in spring training.

Gonzalez, considered by many to be one of the best defensive shortstops ever to play in Boston, lasted only one year and will be replaced by a more offense-oriented shortstop. The Sox have been in negotiations with Julio Lugo, the former Devil Ray who played a half-season for the Dodgers. The Sox also have been contacted by four teams about Manny Ramírez, one of them being the Texas Rangers, who tried to swing an Alex Rodriguez-for-Ramírez deal in the winter of 2003 and need a replacement for Carlos Lee. The Sox would be interested in shortstop Michael Young, though it’s doubtful they could land him.

The Sox have also been negotiating with former Dodgers outfielder J.D. Drew and have been in contact with several relievers, including Danys Baez, Joe Borowski, Justin Speier, Scott Schoeneweis, and others. The Sox also have held preliminary talks with starting pitchers Adam Eaton and Tomo Ohka, who was here from 1999-2001 and could be seen as a mentor to Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Castillo, who hit .268 with New Orleans last season, was in spring training with Washington last March and was instrumental in helping persuade Alfonso Soriano to play left field. Soriano and Castillo are close friends. The Red Sox have not been linked with Soriano, but if they elect to deal Ramírez, they would need another outfielder if they don’t get one in return.

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