Adrian Beltre, who signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox after completing a five-year, $64-million contract with the Mariners, met with the Boston media today. That’s him above with Theo Epstein in the obligatory jersey photo op. Beltre will earned $7 million in 2010, plus a $2 million signing bonus. He has a player option for 2011 that will earn him at least $5 million, with a chance to reach $10 million if he has 640 plate appearances in 2010. There’s a $1 million buyout for 2011. Not quite the whopping deal that agent Scott Boras was hoping for, but if Beltre has a monster year at the Green Monster, he can hit the open market next year and try again.
(Big thanks to Jeff Evans of the Mariners, who got a transcript of the Beltre press conference through the Red Sox PR department.)
Here’s what Beltre said about the Mariners’ efforts to re-sign him: “This is a business, and I was told that they had interest in me going back there, and it didn’t happen. This is a side of business. We talked for a while with Jack and it didn’t work out.”
It wasn’t any secret that Beltre didn’t like hitting at Safeco Field, and he addressed that issue.
“There are some parts of Safeco that can be frustrating. It’s a beautiful ballpark but as a hitter sometimes you make contact and you expect a little better result. Sometimes you hit a ball that you think is going to be a gapper or a maybe a homer and it ends up being out. So the next at-bat you think about trying to hit a little harder, and that’s when the problems come and creates the habits, and maybe that’s something that won’t happen here.”
By the way, I asked Jack Zduriencik yesterday at the Casey Kotchman press conference about the Mariners’ negotiations with Beltre. Here’s what he said: “We had a lot of talks with Adrian, early on, and even later. But it got to a point where you just have to make decisions. As each decision was made, the one with Chone Figgins, Cliff Lee, Bradley, all those things, it just gets to a point, you can wait for a certain period of time, but eventually you have to fill your ballclub out. And that’s what happened here.”
Here are some other highlights from the press confererence:
Beltre on signing a one-year deal with the Red Sox vs. multi-year deal with another team:: “It’s true I had many multi-year offers but I made the decision to come here and take my chances to be on a team that has a legitimate chance to get to the World Series. I’ve been in the big leagues for eleven years and I’ve only been in the playoffs once. Its part of my career that I want to have a chance to be more involved in. I like my chances, I like the organization, I like what’s going on here. I think the team is built to win and it’s the decision that I made and I’m really happy about it.”
Beltre on his health: “Obviously, I passed the physically so I’m good. I’m 100%, my health is good. I’m really excited to come out and prove that I’m healthy and contribute to this team and hopefully win the World Series here.
Beltre on his defense: “I take pride in my defense even though I would like more on the offensive side. I work hard on my defense and it’s something that I take pride in. I work on it but it’s nothing that I want to brag about. It’s part of my game and I’m proud every part of the game.”
Beltre on his numbers last year:“Last year I wasn’t really healthy. I played through an injury that I found out was worse than expected. Then after that it took me a little longer to regroup and get my body back where it was supposed to be. It was a little tough but I got through it and thank God that I’m healthy now and I’m excited to stay healthy this year.”
Beltre on getting to play with David Ortiz: “I know him really well, we actually grew up about twenty minutes apart and I knew him before he got to the states. I’m excited to play with him. I know he’s a loving great guy, a great teammate. I got the opportunity to play with him in the classic in ’06 and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Epstein on Beltre: “Early in the winter we talked to Scott and told him we thought it was a good fit and we agreed to stay in touch throughout the whole winter. Markets develop and then things picked up after the winter meeting but our interest in Adrian goes way back. During his time with the Dodgers we were in discussions back then about a four player trade that never materialized. Then when Adrian hit free agency for the first time we had a lot of interest in him. We actually considered trying to sign him and play him at shortstop for one year and moving him over to third. He ended up going to Seattle and we had to play against him for five years and we’re very happy it ended up working out shortly after the New Year.”
Boras on the appeal of this contract for Beltre: “With a lot of players you really don’t see teams come and offer players three-year deals coming off an injury season. I think Adrian received three or as many as four teams that were interested. It says a little bit about his skills. And the fact that with Seattle, Adrian put up numbers that are just really rare for an infielder with 25 home runs three years in a row and mid 80’s in RBI’s.
“The interesting side of this was that when Theo approached us early on, Boston has always had an understanding of who Adrian is as a player, and that’s something we’ve always agreed upon. We also felt that the metrics of the ballpark and where Adrian’s at in his career, and the fact that Saundra has now had two children and their family is a little further along, that being a West Coast family coming to the East Coast was a comfortable time for the Beltre family to do this. And the desire to win. It’s something where Adrian’s been very successful at a young age. Economically, he can afford to turn down guaranteed money to come here in a one–year situation. Theo and I have learned a little bit more about the collective bargaining agreement, how to do things to manage this deal and to put a creative venture together. I think we’ve built a great stage here and there’s a chance for this rocket to take off.”
Epstein on defense: “We’ve always taken the approach that a run prevented is as valuable as a run scored. With the players that we’re looking for, the best players are the ones that help you score a lot of runs and help you prevent runs at the same time, well rounded players, and I think Adrian fits that bill for us. I think looking forward to our club next year; I hope we have a better all around club than we had this year where our defense was really our Achilles heel last year. If everything goes according to plan, we can put out one of the best defensive units in baseball next year. It should help our pitching staff, and the challenge will be to score more than enough runs to make that count, and I think we’ll do that.”
Epstein on Beltre fitting in at Fenway and fan reaction: “We think Fenway is a fit for Adrian. It’s hard to emphasize just how much Safeco deflates offensive performance for right-handed power hitters. It’s a tough place to hit. Mike Cameron talked about it when he was in here. It’s a difficult place to put up any kind of numbers. Left field, left center field, center field, even if you hit the ball to the opposite field it’s hard to get rewarded as a right-handed hitter there. Obviously, Fenway’s a nice place to hit if you can elevate the ball to the pull side. It also doesn’t take away from a nice opposite-field stroke. Adrian’s natural swing sometimes is to the opposite field, and pull side elevation will obviously be rewarded. We think it’ll be a nice fit. Just getting out of Safeco, even more so than getting to Fenway, is significant. If you look at Adrian’s road performance over the years, it’s very impressive what he’s done outside of Safeco. And even before that he was in a pitchers park in Dodgers Stadium so it’ll be a nice change for him.”
“And as he said, it’s more than just numbers, it’s a mindset and confidence and its effect on the whole ballclub. As far as Red Sox fans, those who have stayed up late to watch us play out in Seattle have seen Adrian make some great plays against us over the years, and beat us with a few home runs, one of the inside the park variety. I think Adrian is the type of player you have to see day in and day out to appreciate not only what he does at third base and his ability to help us win games with a bat in his hand but also the type of person that he is, his leadership skills, and how hard he plays and how passionate he is about the game, I think he’s going to fit in with the Pedroia’s and the Youkilis’ of the world on this club and really help us have the right mindset day in and day out as we grind towards what we hope will be our 95 wins and our playoff berth and our chance to win a World Series.”