Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Market for Adrian Beltre Takes Another Hit

While Scott Boras patiently waits for some team to offer Adrian Beltre a four year deal worth around $10 million annually, the market for Beltre is simply not developing at this point. And to make matters worse, the Red Sox, who were one of the few teams interested in Beltre that could come close to giving him the contract he wanted, might not be in the market for a third baseman anymore. The reason? The Mike Lowell to Texas trade is was cancelled yesterday:

The trade sending Mike Lowell to Texas has been quashed, a baseball source said Saturday night, after a physical exam by the Rangers revealed that the third baseman requires surgery on his right thumb, which he injured on the last weekend of the 2009 season.

A Red Sox source confirmed that Lowell will require surgery to repair the radial collateral ligament in his right thumb, which the source termed as "minor" surgery that will take six to eight weeks to heal. Lowell, who is expected to undergo the surgery after Christmas, should be ready by the first week or two of spring training, the source said.
With Lowell now back in the fold for the Red Sox, it's hard to envision a scenario where the Red Sox can afford to take on Beltre. At this point, Lowell is virtually untradeable thanks to his thumb injury and the only way the Red Sox will be able to get him off their roster would be to flat out release him, which does not make too much sense.

So with the Red Sox off the board, what's next for Beltre? Even though Beltre was considered to be one of the top free agent third basemen, there are only two teams right now that have definite interest in his services: the Mariners and the Giants. However, both of those teams can be patient with Beltre because there are so many corner infielders available on the free agent market. If Beltre continues to price himself too highly, then the Giants and Mariners will simply move on and go after the some of the lower level free agents (DeRosa, Branyan, LaRoche, etc.).
At this point, Beltre has three options:
  1. Continue to push for a 4 year/$40 million dollar deal
  2. Ask for a multi year contract with less years and dollars than option 1
  3. Sign a one year contract

If I was Beltre's agent (Scott Boras), I'd have to seriously think about pursuing a one year contract. Teams are hesitant to give Beltre the deal he wants for numerous reasons (injuries, lack of money, too much competition), but I think teams would love to sign Beltre to a one year deal worth $8 million or so. Sure it's less than he would have gotten if he had accepted the Mariners' arbitration offer, but there is a lot of upside in a one year deal for Beltre:

  1. The 2010 free agent class of third basemen looks weak (outside of Jorge Cantu)
  2. Beltre will be only 31 years old
  3. If he has a big 2010 season, then he could cash in on a lucrative multi year contract next winter

Sure there are risks involved in signing a one year deal, but it might be Beltre's best chance of maximizing his earning potential instead of settling for something like a 3 year/$21 million dollar contract this winter.

No comments: