Word out of Boston today that Adrian Beltre has agreed to a one-year, $9 million deal with the Boston Red Sox should come as no surprise to those who followed this winter’s market or his hitting stats at Safeco Field the past few seasons. Everyone in baseball has pretty much figured out that Beltre owns one of the game’s top gloves at third base. But his hitting numbers are not going to get him paid as one of the elite players in the game the way Jason Bay just did and Matt Holliday certainly will.
Not when some of his potential landing spots vanished overnight with early signings.
We discussed this plenty during the season, but there was always the possibility Beltre was going to have to accept a one-year “audition” of sorts to boost his numbers.
And now, with this signing about to occur, that’s exactly what he’ll be doing. There is reportedly a $5 million player option attached to this deal, but don’t pay it much heed. The goal here for Beltre isn’t to earn $5 million next year. It’s to get back into the eight-figure annual range he’s grown accustomed to.
Beltre was going to have a much tougher time doing that if he played the 2010 season for Seattle. His numbers at Safeco Field were never great while they were among the game’s elite when he was on the road.
Enter Fenway Park, where the short porch in left — even one that is 38 feet high — should greatly improve Beltre’s offensive numbers. If he stays healthy and keeps up the glove, a multi-year deal come 2011 might not be far behind.
But it’s not surprising teams would want to see how durable Beltre is this year before opening the vault for him. As good as his defense is, his offensive numbers were lacking in 2008 and 2009 and were compiled in erratic fashion prior to then (first-half slumps followed by big second halves with his team out of contention), meaning he has plenty to prove this year.
And Fenway Park is as good as any place to start.
Some will note that this deal is for less than Beltre would have made in arbitration with the Mariners. But don’t forget, a lot of Beltre’s market dried up after he declined to accept arbitration from the Mariners. By then, it was too late for him to go back and accept.
And also, while he’d have made a few more million off Seattle in 2010, the goal here, as mentioned, is to keep milking the cash cow well beyond this one season. And he has a better chance of doing that with huge numbers in Boston.
For the M’s, looks like Chone Figgins plays third base. And now, the team can look to sign a free agent second baseman like Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez and worry about what to do with Jose Lopez later on.