LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Technically, Keith Foulke has until Thursday at midnight ET to accept or decline the arbitration offer the Red Sox made to him last week. However, the decision has already been made.
"Keith will not be accepting arbitration," confirmed Dan Horwits, Foulke's agent, late Thursday morning. "He's still talking to the Red Sox. He's got geographic issues. He wants to be closer to his family. There are a number of teams interested."
The Red Sox, with Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, Manny Delcarmen, Craig Hansen and Japanese acquisition Hideki Okajima already lined up for bullpen duty, are believed to have lukewarm interest in bringing Foulke back.
The club declined his $7.5 million club option (which included a $1.5 million buyout) and Foulke declined his $3.75 player option.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Sox offered Foulke arbitration at the Dec. 1 deadline. However, the main motive for that was so they could get a compensatory draft pick from the team that eventually signs Foulke, who is a Type B free agent.
If Foulke had accepted arbitration, he would have been contractually bound to the Red Sox for 2007.
A dominant closer on Boston's World Series champion edition of 2004, Foulke battled injuries to his knees, back and elbow the past two years, causing a sharp decline in performance. Foulke lost his closer's job in the third game of 2006, when manager Terry Francona opted for Jonathan Papelbon.
The Red Sox are still seeking a closer for 2007, but it's not believed that they would pursue Foulke for that role.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.