Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Beltre Joins Red Sox

Third baseman Adrian Beltre has signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox worth $9 million. There is a club option for 2011 worth $5 million.

Beltre is a good pickup for the short term.

In 2004, Beltre had a career year with the Los Angeles Dodgers hitting .334 with 48 home runs and driving in 121 runs. In fact, he was runner up for the NL MVP to Barry Bonds. Beltre then signed a five year contract with the Seattle Mariners worth $64 million. However, Beltre never approached that level of production again. Beltre's best season with Seattle was in 2007 when he hit .276 with 26 home runs and 99 RBI. Given his history with Seattle the Sox were wise not to sign him to a long term deal.

He will, however, be a significant upgrade over Mike Lowell at third base. Beltre's defense has become much better over the years and won back to back Gold Gloves for his work at the hot corner in 2007 and 2008.

The signing of Beltre leaves Lowell in limbo. The Red Sox attempted to trade him to the Texas Rangers for back up catcher Max Ramirez late last year. However, Lowell failed a physical and subsequently required surgery on his thumb. Although he should be ready for spring training he does also have a history of hip trouble.

The Sox will still try to unload Lowell. While I think his days at third base are numbered I think he could contribute as a right handed hitting DH. He could play about 120 games, bat .280, hit 15-20 home runs and drive in 75-80 runs a season. With two World Series rings and a World Series MVP in 2007 on his resume he could also provide a club with veteran leadership.

On the other hand let's say they don't find a taker for Lowell. Let's suppose Beltre gets hurt or just doesn't hit. Or let's say that David Ortiz has early season struggles as he did in 2009. Lowell could step into the breach as a DH/3B, get some big hits, make a couple of good plays and come back from the brink. Should that come to pass it would go to show that sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make.

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