Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Smart Move, Adrian Beltre

Adrian Beltre signed with the Red Sox yesterday on a one year contract. This deal was somewhat surprising given how focused Beltre and agent Scott Boras were on getting Beltre a multi year deal.

Take it away, John Tomase:

The Red Sox have always liked Adrian Beltre. For much of free agency, they just didn’t like his price.

But that changed when Beltre decided one year in Boston was worth more in the long run than three or four somewhere else. So today he officially agreed to a one-year, $9 million deal with a $5 million player option for 2011, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. Beltre can also earn a $1 million buyout if he reaches a plate appearances total commensurate with that of a regular, and the contract contains an escalator on the option that’s only triggered if he makes a significant number of plate appearances.

Far from Beltre’s original asking price of five years and $65 million, the one-year deal looks like a bargain for the Red Sox, who are guaranteed a season of Gold Glove defense at third, while leaving fellow Gold Glover Kevin Youkilis at first.

The deal was agreed to in principle on New Year’s Eve and finalized on Sunday night. Beltre turned down more money from at least two teams – he had a four-year offer early in free agency and then a three-year deal for roughly the same annual value as the deal the Red Sox offered – but he chose Boston with an eye on having a big year for a contender and then hitting the market again next year.

Very good decision by Beltre. As I mentioned before, if Beltre wanted to maximize his earning potential in the future, then taking a one year deal now was his best bet. Why? Because the money and years Beltre thought he'd be in line for this winter simply were not there. So by taking a one year deal with Boston, Beltre is putting himself in a fantastic position to have a big year both offensively and defensively should he stay healthy. The Red Sox lineup is deep and talented and playing in Fenway Park will be a plus for Beltre, who I'm sure is thrilled to be away from SAFECO Park.

Also, the inclusion of the $5 million dollar player option for 2011 is interesting because if Beltre stays healthy, then there is almost no chance that he would pick up the option. There are three scenarios in which I can actually see Beltre picking up that option:
  • he has a terrible season in 2010
  • misses a significant amount of playing time
  • the economy completely implodes

With none of those scenarios likely, this deal is likely to just be a one year deal, which should be fine for both sides. The Red Sox retain the ability to make a move for Adrian Gonzalez next winter should he be available and Beltre instantly becomes the best third baseman on the 2010 free agent market (with Cantu, Feliz, Atkins, and Inge right behind).

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