2010 Hot Stove: Sox sign Beltre for one year

This. Is. Awesome. I have written disparaging things about the Sox getting Adrian Beltre, but that was when I thought it would take a four-year deal to get him. Instead, the Red Sox have signed him to a one-year contract at $9M with a $5M player option with a $1M buyout for 2011. Basically the way it works is the player can opt out if he thinks he will be worth more than $5M on next year’s free agent market.

Given Beltre’s injury woes and questions surrounding his age, I think this is a dream deal for the Sox, and I am utterly shocked that Scott Boras allowed Beltre to sign this small of a deal. There are rumors suggesting that Beltre turned down significantly more money from at least two other clubs (thought to be the Angels and A’s) in order to play for Boston.

What I Like About This Deal
Beltre at this price is a steal. He completes what should be a top-ranked defensive infield, and his well-documented prowess at the hot corner (+23.7 UZR the last three years at FanGraphs and an amazing +63 at 3B from 2006-2008 according to John Dewan’s Fielding Bible, tops in baseball) should help minimize any issues with Macro Scutaro’s range. He’s a right-handed bat with good power, and though he suffered a very poor 2009, it has been ascribed mainly to bone spurs in his left shoulder which have been removed. His road/home splits have been mentioned repeatedly, and he should be a better hitter at Fenway than Safeco. At worst, we could be looking at a better-hitting Pedro Feliz.

Beltre isn’t the patient hitter we usually see the Sox go after (3.56 pitches/PA, 7.1% BB rate and 54.2% swing rate in 2009), and his career .325 OBP is nothing to write home about. But Bill James projects him at .269/.321/.439 for 2010, right around league average. Also, the addition of Beltre restores the logjam at 1B/3B/DH/C we had last season with Mike Lowell, and while it isn’t fun for players who want to play every day or pile up numbers, it means great depth and will keep our aging guys healthy and at the top of their games.

What of Lowell?
What does this signing mean for Lowell? The third baseman will no doubt be shipped out once he is healthy enough to trade. There is one speculative rumor that the Sox could swap him to the Mets for Luis Castillo, but what would that achieve other than to trade one disgruntled player who wants to play for another? Rob Bradford days this is not a serious rumor.

Another player whose future could be in question is Casey Kotchman. Penciled in as the starting first baseman before this signing, he should be given the opportunity to play somewhere, and the Sox need to recoup some value for him.


One Response to 2010 Hot Stove: Sox sign Beltre for one year

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    Bonus: the player option gets counted into the luxury tax calculation, meaning instead of adding $9M to the CBT number, we only get $7M tacked on as the average annual value of the deal.

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