Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thrifty Red Sox Finally Land Another Third Baseman

In what can only be described as another brilliant bargain basement signing, the always-frugal Boston Red Sox signed Adrian Beltre to a one year, $9M contract with a $5M player option for 2011. The deal, which also includes a $1M buyout, comfortably lifts the scrappy small town underdogs over the luxury tax threshold.

Beltre apparently came down a bit from his initial contract demands of 5 years and $65M which was analogous to me applying for a job and asking for the corner office, a secretary and a wet bar. He settled for a temp job in a cubicle with easy access to the water cooler. However, what the deal sacrifices in luxury, it attempts to make up for in flexibility. It offers Beltre the chance to redeem himself coming off a miserable year in which he hit .265/.304/.379 and played in only 111 games, missing significant time due to a... um... well... how do I say this... an injury.

The Sox are banking on last year being an anomaly and Beltre's defensive abilities being all they are cracked up to be, which is to say pretty damn impressive. His average UZR/150 over the last 4 years has been 12.3, which makes up for the fact that his on-base percentage over that same time period has been .321.

While Beltre supposedly turned down longer deals worth more money from other teams let's wait and see how it turns out before declaring it a "steal" or anything of the sort like I sarcastically did in the first paragraph. Fire Brand of the American League lists his home/road splits over the last three years to show that his production was suppressed by playing in Seattle:
2007: (H) .264/.319/.426 (R) .288/.320/.538
2008: (H) .230/.303/.400 (R) .292/.349/.512
2009: (H) .250/.283/.364 (R) .279/.324/.393
But do you notice another trend? His slugging percentage has been declining over the past three years regardless of where he was hitting.

Oh, and there's also the small consideration of Mike Lowell's contract which the Sox will either have to eat or exchange him for a player equally as useless/overpaid. They could hold on to him but given that both he and Beltre are right handed, there's no platoon option. I suppose he could be a fall back DH if Ortiz struggles again, but that's a waste of a roster spot.

The signing of Beltre certainly makes the Sox better next year, but how many teams can afford to replace a player that was making $12M this coming season (and who should be able to play come opening day) with a guy who is making $9M?

The spendthrift ways of last season have been jettisoned in favor of big budget acquisitions in Boston this year. Apparently the items on the sale rack weren't all they were cracked up to be.

1 comment:

  1. They wouldn't be replacing a guy making 12M with a guy making 9M, they are signing a guy making 9M and either benching the 12M man or paying him to play for another team. If that happens (assume they pick up 9M of Lowell's salary like they were prepared to do with Texas), they would be paying $18M to have Lowell and Lugo play for other teams in 2010. Small market indeed