MLB Rumors: Top Five Likely Free Agent Destinations for Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre signed a one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox last year in order to restore credibility to his name after five mediocre seasons in Seattle. Beltre wound up being Boston's best hitter in 2010, hitting .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI in what was an injury-riddled season for the Red Sox.
Beltre enters this year's free agent market as one of the top three hitters along with Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman recently reported that there were up to 12 teams interested in the services of Beltre.
The third basemen experienced similar courting back in 2004, where he came off an MVP-caliber season with the Dodgers to sign a five-year, $64 million dollar contract with the Mariners.
Will Beltre be able to cash in like he did in 2004? Here are the top five likely free agent destinations for the third baseman.
5. Baltimore Orioles
Owner Peter Angelos has the financial ability to sign Beltre, but the only question is if he'll be willing to shell it out. The Orioles platooned several utility players at third base since trading Miguel Tejada to San Diego last season.
The prime candidate to start at third in 2011 is Josh Bell, who was acquired in the George Sherill deal from the Dodgers. Bell showed glimpses of power with the Orioles, but still is quite raw and needs more experience.
The real question is if manager Buck Showalter is content with the potential of Bell next season or if he needs more development at the hot corner position. The Orioles' interest in Beltre suggests they could sign him to a shorter contract, but probably offer him more money per year.
If Beltre is content with the money, rather than the ability to contend, then Baltimore could be a suitable location for the slugger.
4. Oakland A's
The A's were enamored with Adrian Beltre last season, offering the third basement a three-year, $24 million dollar deal. Beltre ultimately walked away from the offer and signed with Boston for one year. Oakland GM Billy Beane targeted him for a reason last season, and no doubt will go after him again. Aside from his regular stats, Beltre's OPS was .919, good for fifth among American League hitters.
Beltre would be an immediate upgrade over last year's third basemen, Kevin Kouzmanoff and Eric Chavez. Kouzmanoff has a strong glove at third but hardly the bat that should come with the position. Chavez, the face of Oakland for the past decade, has been in decline due to several injuries and was released after the season.
Oakland hovered around .500 all season despite one of the best staffs in baseball. The Athletics offense lacked any kind of punch, and that lack of run support often canceled out many quality starts.
If the A's are about to sway Beltre this time around, it could be start to a successful season in Oakland.
*Update- A's have reportedly offered Beltre a five-year, $45 million dollar contract
3. Colorado Rockies
The thin air of Coors Field would be an ideal destination for Adrian Beltre. If the Rockies were able to afford the third basemen, history suggets the contract would pay off.
According to ESPN, in 58 career games in Denver, Beltre has hit .399 with a .446 OBP along with 16 home runs and 63 RBI. He also has a .715 slugging percentage and a 1.161 OPS in the Mile High City.
Beltre would also be an upgrade of the platoon of Ian Stewart and Melvin Mora. Stewart is still young and has shown potential, but won't start everyday until his numbers against lefties improve. If the Rockies sign Beltre, they can still develop Stewart at another position (such at 2B or 1B) and solidify the left side of the infield along with ultra-talented shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
2. Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have been among the favorites to sign Adrian Beltre since the end of the regular season. They have enough money to sign Beltre after missing out on Lackey and Teixeira in consecutive off-seasons. Though it is believed that Carl Crawford is the No. 1 target for the Angels, they would be just as content with Beltre as well.
Brandon Wood is clearly not the answer at third base like the Angels hoped he would be. With Wood's poor 2010, Beltre would upgrade the third base position offensively and defensively. The Angels fell out of contention because they couldn't make up the offense that the team lost from the departed Vladimir Guerrero and injured Kendry Morales.
Adrian Beltre would immediately turn the Angels back in to AL West contenders and prove a challenge to the Texas Rangers.
1. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have made it clear that while they would love to Adrian Beltre back, though they are not going to break the bank.
Reports have indicated that the Red Sox have set their ceiling for Beltre at four years and $52 million dollars. Despite possibly getting better offers elsewhere, Beltre has to consider the success he had with the team and playing at Fenway Park.
The third basemen was clearly the team's most valuable player, thanks to numerous injuries that essentially decimated Boston's postseason chances. He is said to have loved his time in Boston, and is surrounded by a much more talented roster than he would be in Oakland or Baltimore.
Boston has also targeted Carl Crawford and/or Jayson Werth. But unlike most teams, the Red Sox have the financial capabilities to resign Beltre to a fair contract. The question is whether he wants the money and years, or if he want the best chance to win, which is clearly in Boston.