BOSTON – Adrian Gonzalez signed a $154 million, seven-year contract with the Red Sox on Friday then turned his attention to an elusive reward — winning.
Boston hasn't done that much.
"We have faith in ourselves," said Gonzalez, whose new deal runs through 2018. "We're going to turn this around."
Gonzalez is making $6.3 million in the final year of the contract he had when the Red Sox obtained him from the San Diego Padres for three prospects on Dec. 6. Boston went into Friday night's opener of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays with a 2-9 record, the worst in baseball.
That's one win for each long-term deal they agreed to in a six-day span. Pitcher Clay Buchholz was guaranteed $30 million for five years in a contract announced last Sunday. He was 0-2 with a 7.20 ERA before pitching Friday after going 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA last year.
Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star first baseman, gets a $6 million signing bonus, salaries of $21 million a season from 2012-16 and $21.5 million in each of the final two years.
"If you're going to make this kind of commitment, I think you have to be very comfortable with not only the player but also the person," general manager Theo Epstein said. "If you're going to bet on one player, we're very comfortable betting on Adrian Gonzalez."
Despite the size of the contract, "that's a pretty low risk," manager Terry Francona said. "He gets it. He's a solid, solid teammate."
Epstein praised Gonzalez for how well he's fit in with his new team and the leadership he's displayed during the poor start.
"Adrian has really impressed everybody by being so engaged in every aspect of the game. He's not one of these great players who just shows up to hit four times a day," Epstein said. "He's been really active on defense, active in the clubhouse, involved in everything that's going on."
Gonzalez also has stayed optimistic as the team that was picked by many to win the World Series matched its record for its worst start in the first 11 games.
"I'm a very positive person," Gonzalez said. "I just keep telling everybody, 'Have fun, play your game and things will turn around.' ... One thing that we'll always have is that talent-wise we're going to be better than the other team, so just focus on that."
Gonzalez could have played out this season and become a free agent, but wanted the certainty of knowing where he would be.
"I'm a person that really likes to just focus on winning," he said. "When the focus isn't on the team, from my personal standpoint, that's not where I want to be. I want to be where 'let's forget about everything else and let's just focus on winning and being part of the team.' "
Details of the deal were discussed at the time of the trade, but by waiting until after the season started the Red Sox saved luxury tax money. At one point in December, the trade appeared to fall through when the Red Sox and Gonzalez stopped negotiating, but talks resumed and, "at the end of the day when we had our bottom line that's exactly what we eventually settled for," said John Boggs, Gonzalez's agent.
The Red Sox had been wary of long-term contracts before this offseason when they also signed free agent left fielder Carl Crawford to a $142 million, seven-year contract through 2017. They spent more on Gonzalez.
"Adrian, in our minds, was certainly the right player at the right time," Epstein said.
Gonzalez is in his eighth season with a career batting average of .282 and 169 homers. He started Boston's first 11 games, batting .268 with one homer and seven RBIs. He underwent offseason shoulder surgery and didn't start swinging a bat until several weeks into spring training.
"The last piece of the puzzle was Adrian's return to health," Epstein said. "He promised he'd be ready by opening day. He absolutely was ready by opening day and it made all the sense in the world to move forward" with the contract.
There was a brief scare, though, last Sunday when Gonzalez was hit on the knuckle by a pitch from CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees but stayed in the game.
"I aged 100 years," Boggs said, "but Adrian is fine with it. Usually the peripheral people are the ones, I guess, (that) carry a lot of the stress."
But now the deal is done. It doesn't expire until after the 2018 season.
Gonzalez's immediate concern is helping the Red Sox to begin winning again.
"We are disappointed. It's something that you never want to start this way," he said. "I know and am fully confident that come September, we're going to be in the middle of a pennant race and in a position that we're going to make the playoffs."