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Red Sox, Price agree on richest pact

BOSTON – David Price, a 30-year-old left-hander with a history of dominance in the American League, reached an agreement with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday on a seven-year, $217 million deal that will be the richest for a pitcher in major league history.

A person with direct knowledge of the negotiations confirmed the deal and was granted anonymity because the team had not announced it.

Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe was the first to report the agreement, which completes a swift three-part plan to lift the Red Sox out of the East basement, where they have finished in three of the past four seasons.

The exception was 2013, when the Red Sox won the World Series. But that success was not enough for the former general manager, Ben Cherington, to stay in charge, and the team hired Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations in August.

Dombrowski traded for Price in his previous job, with the Detroit Tigers.

He also traded Price to the Toronto Blue Jays in July, and Price responded by going 9-1 and finishing the season with a 2.45 earned run average, the best in the AL. In a career spent mostly with the Tampa Bay Rays – for whom he won a Cy Young Award in 2012 – Price is 104-56 with a 3.09 ERA.

His deal, which averages $31 million per year, will include an opt-out clause after three seasons, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

It eclipses the previous record guarantee for a pitcher: the $215 million the Los Angeles Dodgers will pay Clayton Kershaw from 2014 through 2020. The Dodgers – whose other ace, Zack Greinke, is a free agent – also pursued Price.

It has been a busy offseason for the Red Sox, who traded prospects to the San Diego Padres for an elite closer, Craig Kimbrel, and signed former New York Yankees outfielder Chris Young to a two-year contract. The longest-tenured Red Sox player, designated hitter David Ortiz, also announced this offseason that he will retire after 2016.