As expected, Adrian Beltre has opted to decline his $10 million 2011 option with the Boston Red Sox, and is choosing to become a free agent.
#29 / Third Base / Boston Red Sox
Apr 07, 1979
Beltre will be 32 next season, and is coming off a year where he put up a .321/.365/.553 line with Boston. He'll be looking for a four or five year deal, I suspect, at eight figures per year.
The knock on Beltre is that he has only had two big seasons, both in contract years (although those detractors who make an issue of that ignore that his 2009 season, a contract year, was less-than-stellar). However, Beltre's offensive numbers from 2005-2009 suffered as a result of him playing in Safeco Field for half his games, a stadium that depresses offense generally and righty power in particular.
Beltre's calling card, however, is his third base defense. He has a career 15.3 UZR/150, and logged a 12.7 UZR and a +10 DRS in 2010. He's been in double digits in UZR 7 of the 9 years that data is availble, with a 21.2 UZR as recently as 2009. He's been in double digits in +/- for 6 of the 8 years that data is available, never dropping below +5, and being at 19 or higher five of those years, including a +21 in 2009.
So with Beltre, you get an elite defender at third base whose offensive production the next few years, while not likely to be as good as it was for Boston in 2010, is at least good enough to be slotted in the middle of the order, and would probably be pretty close to what the Rangers got from Vladimir Guerrero in 2010.
Which is why you figure Beltre is someone the Rangers are going to have some level of interest in. Adding Beltre and moving Young to DH means you are getting equivalent offense in 2011 to what you got in 2010, with a significant defensive improvement.
But what the Rangers also have to contend with is how much they are willing to shell out for Beltre, given his age and sporadic offensive history, as well as the commitment they appear ready to make to Cliff Lee, and whether they want to deal with the potential drama involved with moving Michael Young from 3B to DH on a permanent basis.
It may be that someone is willing to give Beltre ridiculous money, something like 6 years at $90 million, and the Rangers won't have to worry about making a decision on him.
But this is definitely something to keep an eye on this offseason.